Memorial lecture at the 32nd General Meeting
of the National Forum for Peace, Democracy and Progressive Unity
Chairperson of the Executive Committee
Japanese Communist Party
May 12, 2012
Friends from throughout Japan, good afternoon.
This year marks sixty years since the JapanU.S. Security Treaty came into force. The National Forum for Peace, Democracy and Progressive Unity (National Kakushinkon) was inaugurated in 1981 shortly after the then Socialist Party of Japan removed itself from the progressive camp by accepting the Security Treaty and concluding an agreement with another party to isolate the JCP. For Kakushinkon, a unique united front movement consisting of a political party, various organizations, and individuals in support of progressive causes, the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty has been a basic goal since its inception. That is why I would like to speak today on a new horizon that would be opened up if and when Japan abrogates the Security Treaty with the U.S.
The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, a treaty that entails an extraordinary degree of subservience to the U.S., has reached a point where its negative effects permeate every aspect of Japanese society with a widespread outcry being heard even from politically conservative people over the state of this country being completely under the thumb of the U.S. I will take up four examples.
First, contradictions caused by the U.S. military bases in Okinawa have passed the limit of endurance.
The Japanese and the U.S. governments are clinging to the relocation plan of Futenma Air Station to a site at Henoko against its disapproval by the majority of Okinawans. There is also a parallel move to consolidate Futenma base by renovating it and deploying the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft Osprey there. This amounts to a form of blackmail, forcing the public to accept its relocation inside Okinawa or a base consolidation in the same location.
Under these circumstances, more and more Okinawans regard the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty as the root cause of their sufferings. An opinion survey conducted by Ryukyu Shimpo and Mainichi Shimbun (May 5-6) asked Okinawans what they thought about the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Only 15.8% of respondents responded that “It should be maintained.” On the other hand, 55.4% supported its transformation to a peace and friendship treaty and 15.5% demanded its outright abrogation. In total, an overwhelming majority of 70.9% supported ending the military alliance. Okinawans’ anger is now focused on and directed at the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Second, it is increasingly apparent that the Security Treaty and Japan’s Constitution cannot coexist.
The Japan-U.S. alliance system has strengthened its aggressive nature by organizing itself into an alliance encompassing a global scale that goes far beyond the original intent of the bilateral security treaty.
The Japan-U.S. Joint Statement issued at the May 1 Summit meeting for the first time declared a “dynamic defense cooperation.” This means that both countries will send their forces globally to conduct joint military actions.
The Joint Statement also expressed an intention to “further enhance the Alliance’s ability to respond to a variety of contingencies.” This ability is to be acquired though joint exercises at training grounds shared by Japan and the U.S. that are to be built in Guam and the Tinian islands.
This would enable Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense which is prohibited by Article 9 of the Constitution. Japan faces a stark choice in this new century: Which should guide us in the future, Article 9 of the Constitution or the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty?
Third, Japan is about to give up its economic sovereignty with its plan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
The TPP is not just another free trade agreement. The preliminary talks between Japan and each participant in the TPP clarified that all tariffs, including the one on rice imports, must be abolished without exception. Through the TPP that requires “elimination of non-tariff barriers,” Japan would be forced to fundamentally transform its society and economy in the direction that the U.S. favors. Already concrete demands are leveled at Japan in such areas as food safety, public works, insurance, and health care. In addition, all the TPP negotiations are conducted in secret with participants bound by agreements to prohibit disclosure of the content of the talks.
Opposition to the TPP has spread to agricultural cooperatives, medical associations, the construction industry, and other organizations and sectors that traditionally held politically conservative views. These organizations are raising voices of protest, saying “Japan is on the verge of losing its sovereignty” and “We should not allow such high-handed behavior by the U.S.” This is an important development.
Fourth, Japan’s diplomatic status in the world has declined significantly to the point that it is becoming invisible.
At the 2010 NPT Review Conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, I was surprised at the lack of Japan’s diplomatic presence even though it should have played an important role as the only A-bombed country. The participants from Japan who were A-bomb survivors told me that they could not find any Japanese officials at the conference. This was to be expected. The government of Japan has continued to abstain from U.N. resolutions that call for international negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention for 16 years in a row. What a pathetic attitude this is! It totally goes against the ardent wish of Japanese people: elimination of nuclear weapons.
If you look at the North Korean question, Japan alone has no diplomatic strategy or diplomatic relations with North Korea among the participants in the Six-Party Talks. All the parties except Japan have their own diplomatic channels with North Korea, acting from their own strategic points of view.
Japan has become a country whose counsel no one seeks and whose help no one wants even if a critical situation arises. Such diplomatic impotence is a direct product of its continued subordination to the U.S. This situation contributes to a growing sense of impotence shared by many Japanese people.
A revealing opinion poll was conducted by NHK in November 2010 in regard to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Asked whether the security treaty is helpful in preserving the peace and security of Japan, more than 70% responded in the affirmative when those who consider the treaty “helpful” (31%) and “rather helpful” (40%) combined.
However, to another question on a future security system, only 19% think that “Japan’s security should be protected based on the Japan-U.S. alliance.” In contrast, 55% support “the creation of an international security framework focusing on the relations with other Asian countries” and 12% favor “security by maintaining neutrality without possessing any defense forces.” In total, 67% prefer diplomatic efforts vis-a-vis the rest of Asian nations as a way to ensure the security of Japan.
Also asked about Japan’s response to China’s recent moves, only 12% respondents think that “it should be dealt with the use of U.S. military deterrence.” On the contrary, 57% support a cooperative response with other Asian nations and 23% think that strengthening the bilateral relations is the answer. In total, 80% favor building friendly relations with China through diplomatic means.
Most of the political parties in Japan, including the Democrats, Liberal Democrats, Your Party, and “Osaka Ishin no Kai,” consider it essential to keep the alliance with the U.S. as the basis of Japan’s diplomacy and they all rely on military deterrence. Although a majority of the Japanese public views the security treaty with the U.S. in a favorable light, they are beginning to reject the simplistic ideas held by those political parties.
This is a remarkable change in the public mindset that reflects the increase in people-to-people exchanges and strong economic relationship between East Asian nations and Japan.
We have various struggles at hand to be strengthened and expanded. However, the time has come when we should get to the root of the problem and question the very necessity of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the mother of all the problems we are facing.
Upon the 60th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, I call for a nationwide discussion on whether we should continue the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Then what will happen when we get rid of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. I foresee at least three positive changes.
First, the Japanese people will be freed from the oppressive presence of the U.S. bases.
Under the Security Treaty, the relocation of a base such as the Futenma Air Station is possible only when the governments of both Japan and the U.S. reach an agreement. However, we can end the Security Treaty only by exercising our right under Article 10, giving notice to the U.S. of our intention to abrogate the treaty. One year after giving notice, the Security Treaty will be terminated and all the U.S. Forces in Japan withdrawn. The cost of withdrawal is to be borne by the U.S.
The U.S military in Japan, which causes incessant criminal incidents and accidents, enjoys extraterritorial rights under the Status of Forces Agreement and is given special privileges behind the shroud of secret agreements, will be gone. In one stroke, the extraordinary burden of the U.S. military presence in Japan will be removed.
When I visited Kadena Town in Okinawa Prefecture in 2009, the then Mayor Miyagi Tokujitsu said to me, “The Futenma Air Station is notorious as the most dangerous military base for local residents in the world, but the Kadena base is also very dangerous. I hope you will begin a fresh discussion on the need for the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty itself in the Diet.” The sight of the biggest air base in the Far East with two runways of 4,000 meters length right next to the town hall made me realize that the best way to remove this vast base would be to get rid of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Former Ginowan City Mayor Iha Yoichi, speaking at the pro-Constitution rally on May 3 this year, also stressed that it was time to go beyond the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and that we should start reconsidering the very nature of the Treaty.
These remarks were all the more important because they were made by the mayors of the very municipalities that have long suffered from the presence of the U.S. military bases, Kadena and Futenma.
As we demand an early removal of U.S. military bases, we should also emphasize the fact that all the U.S. bases will go when the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is gone.
A Japan without U.S. bases will stop serving as a launching pad for U.S. wars.
The U.S. Forces stationed at the bases in Japan, such as the Marine Corps and the Carrier Strike Group, are forces not here to protect Japan but to invade other countries. They have been using the bases in Japan as launching pads for wars of aggression and intervention in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In the name of the “Japan-U.S. alliance,” violations of the Japanese Constitution has continued unabated and have increased with the increased joint operations overseas by the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the U.S. forces.
I point out that removing the U.S. bases from Japan will also be a major contribution to peace in Asia and throughout the world.
After the U.S. bases in Japan are removed, we would be able to use the taxpayers’ money and land that are now used by U.S. forces for the well-being of the general public.
We would no longer have to pay for the cost of stationing U.S. forces in Japan, which amounts to 700 billion yen annually. The land occupied by the U.S. bases, which is estimated to be worth 14 trillion yen, will be returned.
This would also help create new industries and employment. The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Secretariat predicts that the removal of all U.S. bases in the prefecture would increase the amount of local production 2.2 times, the amount of income 2.1 times, and the number of jobs 2.7 times.
Let us make not only Okinawa but all of Japan free of U.S. military bases by getting rid of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Second, the abrogation of the Security Treaty can turn Japan from a launching pad for the U.S. wars to a “launching pad for peace” based on Article 9 of the Constitution.
In this context, I would like to stress that Japan will be able to help start a move towards disarmament in East Asia only by ending the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Having forty to fifty thousand U.S. troops leave Japan would constitute a major disarmament step, coupled with a significant reduction in the SDF that will become possible as Japan will no longer need those troops that exist only to support the U.S. military in its interventions abroad.
If you look at the root of the tension being built up in the East Asian region, we can see the U.S. strategy of hegemonism implemented through redeploying its armed forces and enhancing their efficiency and capability. Under this strategy, looking beyond the end of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. intends to “rebalance (its military presence) toward the Asia-Pacific region” with a focus on “the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia.” (Department of Defense, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” January 5, 2012) In the guise of the “realignment of U.S. forces in Japan,” the U. S. plans to reinforce its bases in Japan, facilitate more integrated operations by the U.S. forces and the SDF, and deploy the U.S. Marine Corps in geographically dispersed locations that include Guam and the Tinian Islands as well as Australia.
Meanwhile, China is expanding its military power in step with its growing economy, with the defense budget in FY 2011 exceeding seven trillion yen (RMB 600 billion or U.S.$90 billion according to the Chinese government), an amount second only to that of the U.S.
Only by abrogating the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and removing the U.S. bases in Japan which are the biggest source of regional tension, we can call on other East Asian countries, including China, to work together to shift away from military build-up to disarmament. Thus, Japan will be able to introduce a peace initiative in line with Article 9 of our Constitution.
This will certainly be a historic turning point for the peace and stability in East Asia.
Let us now consider how we can ensure security in Japan and East Asia after we terminate the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
We can take a lesson from the Japanese public who supported the idea of building an international security framework focusing on strengthening peaceful relations with other Asian countries as was expressed in the NHK poll that I mentioned earlier. I believe this is precisely the course we should follow.
Looking at East Asia as a region, we find various social systems, such as advanced capitalism, developing economies, and countries embarking on a quest for socialism. We also find in this region a diversity of religious beliefs, including Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism, coexisting peacefully with each other. In addition, the entire region is experiencing significant economic development with economic ties and interdependence deepening year after year. In such a closely knitted region, a war is clearly inconceivable and absolutely impermissible.
Based on this reality, East Asia should break away from the military-dependent security concept to pursue security through peaceful means by making rational diplomatic efforts, such as promoting dialogue and confidence-building through respecting differences in political systems and cultures including religious beliefs, recognizing the various stages of economic development and strictly abiding by the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes.
This is not mere idealism. Southeast Asia has set precedents we should learn from.
This region was once home to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), a U.S.-centered military alliance, some of whose members in Southeast Asia entered the Vietnam War on the U.S. side, causing a deep and painful division in the region. After the U.S. was defeated and withdrew from Vietnam, the SEATO was dissolved out of the realization that that military alliance can never assure peace and stability.
With the SEATO disbanded, Southeast Asian countries focused on developing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). There were valuable lessons in this process which the JCP learned firsthand from the officials of ASEAN governments during our diplomatic activities as an opposition party. They told us that the ASEAN is attaching great importance to the following four frameworks for peace and security.
One, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) concluded in 1976. This treaty upholds the doctrine of the renunciation of use of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes, serving as a code of conduct that governs relations among the ASEAN countries. Then in 1987, it was opened for membership by countries outside of the region. The TAC has grown into a major current which is embraced by 55 countries representing 70 % of the world population.
Two, the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. This treaty embodies the ASEAN’s spearheading efforts towards achieving a world without nuclear weapons.
Three, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Now having 27 member states, the ARF is engaging in promoting “dialogue” and “confidence-building” with a vision of evolving into an institution for “preventive diplomacy” and “peaceful settlement of disputes.” It is noteworthy that the ARF, with both South Korea and North Korea becoming member states, has helped to bring diplomatic solutions to conflict situations on the Korean Peninsula.
Four, the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, signed by the ASEAN countries and China. This declaration aims to facilitate peaceful settlements of territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea. There are ongoing negotiations to upgrade the declaration to a code of conduct that is legally binding.
This multi-layered architecture is built on a new concept that security must be pursued through peaceful means without depending on military strength and deterrence by including all the countries into the regional frameworks as well as by promoting dialogues, confidence-building measures, and peaceful resolutions of disputes.
Recently, Ogata Yasuo, JCP vice chairperson and the International Commission chairperson, visited the ASEAN-affiliated Philippines to meet leading figures in the government and the legislature. A country famous for the People Power Revolution of 1986 that overthrew the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines achieved the closure of the two biggest U.S. bases in Asia, Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Base, in 1992. Filipino political leaders told Mr. Ogata that the people were never worried that the absence of the U.S. bases might result in a lack of deterrence force. Their unanimous view regardless of their political differences was that the removal of the U.S. bases has had no negative consequences.
Although the Philippines has territorial disputes with China, it has expanded economic ties with China, establishing a bilateral relationship that allows working for diplomatic solutions without escalating to conflict.
Filipino leaders also told Mr. Ogata that even though the Philippines conducts joint military exercises with the U.S., it was unthinkable that the country would again allow the presence of foreign military bases under the constitution established after the People Power Revolution.
Friends, the JCP proposes to expand such a regional community to create a region of peace extending from Southeast Asia to Northeast Asia.
The question is whether it is possible to create such a regional community in Northeast Asia that is faced with the difficult challenge that arises from the conduct of North Korea.
Of course, the DPRK’s violation of international agreements warrants stern criticism. At the same time, all countries share the common belief that there should never be another war in the region. Then, the best and the only way forward is to solve the question peacefully and diplomatically by making the most of the Six-Party Talks even though this forum is currently facing difficulties.
The Six-Party Talks, involving all the regional players, issued a Joint Statement in September 2005 that reiterated its goal to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free while aiming to become a multilateral framework to create peace and stability in Northeast Asia. It is important to go back to this Joint Statement to reinvigorate diplomatic efforts towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and bring about a comprehensive solution to all the outstanding issues, including issues in regard to nuclear programs, missiles, and abductions, as well as the settlement of the bitter legacies left by Japan’s militarist and colonial past. We should also make an increased effort to develop this forum into a permanent framework to create and maintain peace in Northeast Asia.
In addition, the TAC and the ARF can be mobilized to contribute to peace and stability in Northeast Asia because all the participants in the Six-Party Talks have joined both the TAC and the ARF.
After abrogating the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Japan can emerge as a country that offers a positive contribution to world peace through diplomacy based on Article 9 of the Constitution.
The majority of the countries in the world are pursuing peace through such major efforts as establishing an international order to create peace based on the U.N. Charter, achieving “a world without nuclear weapons,” and promoting dialogue among civilizations and peaceful coexistence among various countries. However, Japan under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, straitjacketed by the U.S. hegemonic strategy, is kept from making such efforts, if not actually hampering them.
The abrogation of the Security Treaty will completely change the situation. Japan would finally be able to contribute proactively to world peace by putting life into Article 9 of the Constitution. Take the nuclear issue for example. Japan can play an invaluable role, worthy of a country that experienced the tragedy of A-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to create a world without nuclear weapons if Japan becomes a truly nuclear weapon-free country after abrogating the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and getting out from under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
The third positive change that will be brought about by the abrogation of the Japans-U.S. Security Treaty is that Japan’s economic sovereignty will be firmly defended from the outrageous infringement on the sovereignty under the present setup.
Japan’s subservience to the U.S. has seriously distorted the Japanese economy.
In the agricultural sector, the successive import liberalization of wheat and other grains, beef, citrus, and numerous other items has reduced Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate to less than 40%, an extraordinarily low level compared with those of other major advanced capitalist countries. Now even rice is being targeted for liberalization.
In the energy sector, we have got into a situation where many nuclear power plants exist on this small island nation because the U.S. enticed the Japanese government to import enriched uranium and nuclear reactors at the start of the nuclear program in Japan.
In the financial sector, the U.S. has forced Japan to adopt liberalization and deregulation and to lower the interest rates to the extreme so that an enormous amount of wealth can be siphoned off from the Japanese people.
In the labor sector, the deregulation of the labor market imposed by the U.S. has led to a severe deterioration in working conditions with the drastic increase of temporary and contract workers.
The framework to subjugate Japan economically has been further strengthened by setting up the Structural Impediments Initiative and the annual Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative between the two countries. Japan’s entry into the TPP would be a culmination of such endeavors and will destroy Japan’s economic sovereignty altogether.
This situation has its origin in Article 2 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, that states, “[The parties] will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies.” Under this provision, the American standard has been imposed on Japan in an outrageous manner.
If Japan gets rid of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, it will be able to overcome its economic subservience to the U.S. which has long distorted the Japanese economy in all aspects and caused hardship for the Japanese people. Japan will be able to finally follow an independent path of economic development.
Then, it is certain that such a Japan can take independent initiatives to tackle questions regarding the global climate, uncontrolled speculative investments, and other economic problems that the world faces, helping establish a more equitable and democratic international economic order.
Friends, these are the positive changes that would be brought about when we get rid of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
It is not that we seek confrontation or a hostile relationship with the U.S. The JCP proposes that the two countries conclude a friendship treaty in place of the Security Treaty. True friendship based on trust and mutual respect does not develop between the ruler and the ruled. Only by forging an equal relationship, can the nations and the peoples of the U.S. and Japan foster a truly friendly relationship.
The Non-Aligned Movement now has 138 member states (including the observer states) representing a population of 5.4 billion, and is developing as a major current in world politics. The goals of the movement are to reject military alliances while maintaining neutrality, establish peaceful international relations based on the United Nations Charter, abolish nuclear weapons, and make the international economic order more equitable and democratic. The JCP position is that after abrogating the Security Treaty, Japan should join the Non-Aligned Movement, thus making a great contribution to the advance of the world in the 21st century.
Before concluding my talk, I want to emphasize the urgent need for consistent diplomatic efforts to work to create a peaceful environment in East Asia in addition to our efforts towards the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. I would like to raise four points in this regard.
First, we should avoid escalation of tensions caused by a vicious cycle of military responses at all cost.
When North Korea violates international law and acts against the agreed opinion of the international community, Japan tends to respond to it militarily while neglecting to make diplomatic efforts to defuse the situation. We must firmly reject such an attitude of disdain for diplomacy.
However complicated the North Korean question may become, the rest of the international community must maintain its unity in pursuing a peaceful resolution of the issue. This is the best way to stop North Korea from violating international law as well as to encourage it to become a responsible member of the international community.
Second, the JCP urges that the bilateral relationships between Japan and China as well as between the U.S. and China should shake off the entrenched mindset of military rivalry and shift away from arms buildup to work toward mutual arms reductions.
Given that Japan and China have established the Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests and the U.S. and China have set up the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and given that both bilateral economic ties and human interchanges are expanding, there cannot and should not be a arms race possibly leading to the outbreak of war between these nations.
Third, we must pursue diplomatic solutions to territorial disputes in this region calmly and persistently based on historical facts and international law.
In this respect, the Japanese government has been a hindrance in the settlement of the disputes, as the JCP pointed out straightforwardly in its proposals on working for a reasoned solution to the territorial questions.
At the same time, appropriate corrective actions are called for as some quarters in the parties to the disputes are arguing for unilateral measures and calling for the use of force, thus fueling mistrust on both sides.
Fourth, Japan’s reflection on its past wars of aggression and colonial rule provides the basis for a peaceful environment of coexistence in East Asia.
The JCP strongly urges the Japanese government to immediately solve outstanding issues including the “comfort women” question and not allow an emergence of adverse currents that deny the validity of historical facts.
We cannot change past history. However, we can squarely face up to our past and apply to the future what we have learned from reflection on the past. Only by taking such an attitude, can Japan become a true friend to other countries in East Asia.
In order to end the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, we need to work to create a majority public opinion that supports its abrogation. This requires special efforts to inform the public about the positive changes that can be brought about by the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security treaty, while we continue to develop different struggles against every abnormal situation arising from the Japan-U.S. military alliance by building on the public aspiration for peace.
It is no less important to advance the various movements based on pressing public demands while giving recognition to the common ground shared among the participants in each movement, namely: removing the U.S. bases in Okinawa and throughout Japan; revising the extraterritorial Status of Forces Agreement; stopping the global military integration of the U.S. and Japan under the name of the “realignment of U.S. forces in Japan”; scrapping the “sympathy budget” for the U.S. forces; annulling the secret agreements including the ones about nuclear weapons; and stopping Japan from joining the TPP.
In the course of these struggles, we should make a parallel and persistent effort to raise public awareness of the positive changes that can be brought about by abrogating the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Forming a majority opinion in support of the abrogation of Japan-U.S. Security Treaty will also create a favorable condition to create a democratic coalition government.
Friends, by renewing the call for continuing and increasing joint efforts to achieve a peaceful, neutral, and truly independent Japan, I conclude today’s talk. Thank you for your attention.
(Akahata May 15, 2012)