Monthly Archives: August 2013

Japan Air Self-Defense Force participates in US military drill: Reinterpretation of the Constitution?

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     A formation of F-15 fighters of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has participated in a military maneuver which the US Air Force has led. They had exercises jointly with a B-52 for covering the bomber. It is capable of meaning to depart from “the defense-only policy” that Japan has been acting up to since the end of the war. The Abe administration adopted a change the chief of Cabinet Legislation Bureau at a Cabinet meeting this month to let them accept the use of the right to collective self-defense by “reinterpretation of the Constitution”.

     This military exercise is called “Red Flag-Alaska (RFA)”. It was named that way in 2006 since then it has done in Alaska, and it started on August 9th this year too.

     “This happened during the OCA (offensive counter air operation) mission in RFA. A formation of F-15 of JASDF took the lead and kept covering B-52 bomber….But B-52 had run the mission and had gone back with the other formations before the Japan’s team knew. The formation of JASDF was left behind and got down without covering forces. This misstep was because all of the operation plans and the pre-flight briefing had been done in English and Japan’s pilots had not understood correctly that they had to go back when B-52 finished its bombing mission and because they could not catch the MC’s “Mission accomplished. Retreat” …

     That is a part of an article in the July issue last year of the monthly magazine of the Air Self-Defense Force. The writer is a captain in the 6th aircraft wing. He did not write when the drill was held. Actually Japan Air Staff Office has not affirmed the contents of the exercises. According to them, it was an “air defense drill”.

     The relations between Article 9 of the Constitution and activities of Japan’s Self-Defense Force have been stretched gradually. However, the exclusively defensive defense and the individual self-defense are the base, and the government has been conditional on these three points:
1) if Japan gets an imminent and unlawful incursion,
2) and there is no other appropriate methods to get rid of it,
3) resort to force to minimum necessary
And they have banned to exercise the right of collective defense because it departs from those three conditions. But they have used the ideas of “logistical support” or “non-combat areas” since 1990s and have delivered weapons and provided information to the US Armed Force because they interpret those actions are not using of force and do not regard them as the right of collective defense.

     What do experts think about the participation of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to RFA? :

Kyoji Yanagisawa (The chairman of International Geopolitics Institute Japan, a former aide to deputy chief cabinet secretary for security in the first Abe administration) : The government might reply that they assume the situation in which North Korea launches missiles to Japan. When Japan is in such an emergency situation, the activity is within the individual self-defense.

Akira Kato (A professor at Obirin University, a former research worker at the National Institute for Defense Studies): The Japan Air Self-Defense Force always keeps joint operations with the US Air Force in mind. That is why they practice many drills together to boost mutual understanding and communication. In actual condition, members of Self-Defense Force don’t think whether their action is collective or individual so much.

Tetsuo Maeda (A military commentator): B-52 is notorious for using napalm during the Vietnam War. The recent white paper on defense says, “There is no risk of getting a direct invasion to Japan”. So, it’s difficult to accept their activities as self-defense. It is rather a proof that they practice the use of the right to collective self-defense on a daily basis. It has no reality of using B-52 in the Korean Peninsula because the bomber is incapable of point attack to the deployment place of Taep’o dong or Nodong. It’s natural to think the practice is to join wars between the US and other countries like Iran.

Motofumi Asai (A political scholar): Strategic bombers are used for aggressive attack or invasion. So, covering B-52 departs from “minimum necessary” of self-defense. Politicians may be creating “faits accomplish” such as the drill.

     B-52 is capable of strategic nuclear strike. It seems to be difficult for US to handle attacks from North Korea with a ballistic missile defense system. They appear to have a nuclear retaliation plan. That exercise may be for sharing the project. It might be the aim for the use of the right to collective self-defense to support wars between US and other countries. The worst thing is that the government has neither opened the activities of the Japan Self-Defense Force nor assumed situations to the public. They have never even placed those things on the agenda. In the meantime, Prime Minister Abe is scrambling for acceptation of the use of the right to collective defense.

(From The Chunichi, August 13, 2013      translated by moshimoshimo)

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Living Article 9 of the Constituion: Never forget the heaviness of pulling the trigger

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a9     When they gasped for air, the ground cracked and revealed their naked chests.

     It happened in June, 1941, half a year before Sino-Japanese War extended to the Pacific War. Katsumi Nishio, 93, was an army soldier at that time. He was having a break near the Great Wall when other soldiers brought two Chinese farmers there. The unit to which Katsumi belonged was chasing their enemies in the front line of the northeast area in China. The two farmers were forced to lie on their backs on the ground and were covered with dirt from the neck down.

     “Tell everything you know!” When the two men said nothing, Katsumi’s fellow soldiers hit their faces and heeled their bodies. The troops had to set out soon. Then the platoon leader said, “I’ll fix them,” and took a shot to the head of one of the farmers. “Shoot another,” said the leader and gave Katsumi the gun. Katsumi pulled the trigger quickly. The first bullet missed the vital point, and then the second one took the farmer’s life. Katsumi must have been shot to death if he had disobeyed the order.

     Katsumi had fought in China and the Kurile Islands, and then was taken to the prison camp in Siberia when the war was end. He worked at a coal mine with some 1500 other prisoners. The Soviet government gave them their original “Japanese newspaper” three times a week.

     “Is this true?” On the sooty paper issued on March 9 in 1946, there was a headline of “To renounce war forever” with a basic outline of new Japan’s constitution. Some believed the article, but Katsumi did not. “It must be the Soviet’s false info!” He could not think about the article calmly in the condition he needed to worry about the day’s water and food.

     After a-five-year detention in Siberia, Katsumi was sent to the war criminal office in China, where he had shot a farmer. “I just did a right thing in the battle field.” Katsumi thought that and saw the Chinese officials as enemies. But there were no Chinese people who blamed Japan’s behaviors during the war.

     How come they can be kind to us? Katsumi began regarding the Chinese officials as human-beings, not his enemies. One day he got to know that China was preparing for their new constitution. He thought a new constitution had already been proclaimed in Japan and one day he requested an officer a copy of the Constitution of Japan.

     “That was true!” The basic principles of the war renunciation, which he had thought false info in Siberia, were written in Preamble and Article 9. After that he started having nightmares in which the farmer he had killed appeared. He was scared of what he had done and he confessed his secret to Chinese officials.

     Katsumi came back to Japan in August, 1956, 11 years after the end of the war. He was very surprised to see Japan’s reconstruction because he had heard that his country had been burned to ground. The government had published in July of the year an economic survey that said “It is no longer termed postwar.” Japan looked like a new country in its high economic growth period for his eyes.

     However, Shinsuke Kishi became a prime minister half a year later and started claiming that the present Japan’s constitution was an obtrusion from GHQ (General Headquarters of Allied Forces) and that Japan needed its own constitution. Moreover, the prime minister tried to amend the security treaties between Japan and the U.S. Katsumi was very shocked at the government’s attitude and wondered if Japan forgot about the misery of the war after just ten years.

     “Japanese people should never have guns!” Katsumi thought that strongly. He never forgets the farmers. He can say this because he knows the heaviness of pulling the trigger. “Wars have neither justice nor injustice. So we should preserve Article 9!”

(From The Chunichi on August 13 in 2013, translated by moshimoshimo)

My Mother’s 82nd Birthday: “I’m happy to live longer…”

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     All of a sudden, someone turned the lights off in the room, and my vision went black. Then the door opened silently and a birthday cake emerged with its candle lights in the darkness.

     Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday, dear okasan
     Happy birthday to you 983309_402338883220294_775877818_n

All the people at the place sang the song together for my mother, who turned 82 years old. The party was held at the end of July but my mother’s birthday was August 1st officially. Actually my mother was told by her mother (=my grandma) before her death was that her real birthday was July 29, though….

      To tell the truth, the party was not for my mother’s birthday. It was a special event entitled “Las 20 tapas y el vino a porron” held by a Spanish friend Mariano. I took my 82-year-old mother to the party. I had asked Mariano to celebrate my mother’s birthday on ahead, but I had not told to my mother anything about it, of course.

     For an 82-year-old Japanese lady like my mother who has never travelled overseas and has lived in a small island like Japan all her life, it is quite rare to have a chance of communication with foreigners even in the 21st century. That is why I thought that it would be nice for such a lady, especially for a recovering person from illness, to have an opportunity to enjoy Spanish food with various people. My mother was hospitalized for a skin cancer in June. I wanted to cheer her up.タパス

     It was very hot night when the party was held. It was probably over 30 degrees even at night. In such a hot condition, Mariano cooked 20 kinds of dishes! All of them were delicious! Muy deliciosso! The party started with sangria, and then Spanish omelets, pinchos of tomatoes, olives and cheese, of shrimps, olive, and sliced smoked salmon, of eggs, jalapenos, mackerels, and ….I can’t introduce the 20 kinds of foods here…anyway everything was wonderful!

     It was the first time for me to meet most of the participants at the party, and of course, my mother had never met all of them. However, all the partiers were nice and kind to my mother and celebrated her birthday, too. They served and were attentive to her. I really appreciated it. I would like to thank them. My mother and I were very touched. 1057830_402338849886964_740950341_n

     Yes, my mother was very impressed by the people’s concern to her. But I was very surprised when she stood up suddenly and walked to the others at the end of the party. It was the first time for her to talk to Spanish and Mexican people, but she gathered courage to say “Gracias” to them. Actually, it was the first time for her both saying a Spanish word and trying Spanish food!

     All of the food was delicious! All of the people at the party were wonderful! My mother and I had a great time in the mixed Spanish and Japanese languages atmosphere. On her way home, my mother muttered “I’m happy to live longer…”