Japan's Hidden Agenda in Iraq

| August 20, 2003

Since the end of WWII, Japan has largely been a pacifist nation, stereotypically busying itself with the production of quality electronics. War was only as close as the virtual would offer, manifest in the Nintendo revolution. But set aside those preconceptions, for Japan may soon join the United States in Iraq-with some very real consequences.

As William O. Beeman reports in Pacific News Service, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, with Bush administration support, recently fought to pass a bill that would 'allow the dispatch of troops from the Japanese Self Defense Forces (defense here meaning a force that must seek a threat to defend against)?' The language of the bill seems to violate the language of the constitution the United States forced Japan to adopt after WWII.

Article Nine of the Japanese constitution states: 'The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. . . . Land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.' Did we write that?

It may seem ironic that the United States should back a proposal to negate a constitution it helped design; but it's less so when you consider the two countries' mutual interests. Japan's economy, like ours, is struggling. And, as Beeman notes, 'nothing is more important for resource-starved Japan than a reliable source of energy.' Japan has been a big buyer of Iraqi oil in the past, receiving about half of its energy resources from the larger Gulf region. But Japanese companies have also invested heavily in the region's oil facilities. The United States, in turn, would benefit by welcoming Japan to its emaciated 'coalition.'

Yet, whatever the motivations, the bill sets a new precedent with serious implications. Should tensions increase between the United States and North Korea, for example, Japan is now nicely situated to intervene. Perhaps video games do incite violence?
-- Adam Overland

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