Shii speaks on TV about significance of international communities for peace and Article 9

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on an Asahi Newstar Communication Satellite TV program aired on January 16 spoke about Japan's diplomacy and Article 9, the gist of which is as follows:

Japan's dangerous move to strengthen cooperation with NATO

Q: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in his recent tour to Europe committed Japan to strengthening its cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). What do you think of this?

Shii: Abe reportedly is planning to strengthen Japan's cooperation with NATO in Afghanistan. This is a plan to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to the region where NATO forces are currently deployed. Cooperation between military alliances for dispatching forces abroad is very dangerous.

At the same time, I would say that this plan does not match the present situation in which the "drift of NATO" is much discussed. NATO has lost its original purposes, and member states cannot reach a consensus on what NATO should do next. At the time of the Iraq war in 2003 in particular, NATO failed to function due to opposition to the war by major member states including Germany and France.

Much controversy still exists over dispatching its troops outside of the NATO area to include Afghanistan.

Broadly speaking, military alliances in the world on the whole are heading toward dismantlement.

European countries are trying to refrain from waging wars in the region by establishing a regional community for peace, the European Union. I believe that the plan to dispatch forces abroad by means of strengthening cooperation between the Japan-U.S. military alliance and NATO is incompatible with the direction that European countries are heading.

Replacing military alliances with communities for peace

Q: You were visiting Vietnam when Prime Minister Abe made a tour of Europe and visited the Philippines to attend the East Asian Summit meeting. What is the East Asian Summit like when it is viewed from Vietnam?

Shii: First of all, it is significant that Vietnam has become an influential member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In the past, Vietnam fought with some countries that are now ASEAN members. In the days of the Vietnam War, there existed the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), and the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea sent troops to Vietnam.

However, since this tense relationship ended in a positive manner, ASEAN has been turned into a regional community for peace. ASEAN is calling on nations to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Japan have joined it. Thus, this region has become a promising source of the global current for peace.

During my stay in Vietnam, I was really impressed by the fact that Southeast Asia has become a peaceful region in which former foes and friends during the Vietnam War together make up a community for peace.

I have just mentioned that military alliances in the world on the whole are heading toward dismantlement. I must add that regional communities for peace have replaced military alliances, and this is a global trend.

In Southeast Asia today, nobody thinks of waging wars, though small-scale conflicts may occur from time to time. Therefore, it is important to establish a framework for peace in Northeast Asia.

Article 9 that has sustained postwar Japan

Q: It is 60 years since the Constitution came into force. Prime Minister Abe is calling for a revision of the Constitution. How do you view Japan's postwar history and the Constitution?

Shii: Although the Japanese military (called the SDF) was established in violation of the Constitution, the Japanese military has killed no foreigners since the end of the war, and none in the military has been killed in wars. This is unique among countries participating in the G8 Summit. This is not because the Liberal Democratic Party is peaceful, but because Article 9 has displayed its value in protecting the peace.

Although Japan's military budget is large in absolute terms, it has been relatively small in comparison with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to Article 9. This has prompted the government to use funds for economic development.

As a matter of fact, Article 9 has sustained postwar Japan. We will make our utmost efforts to prevent the pro-constitutional revision forces from destroying Article 9.

- Akahata, January 18, 2007

The Central Committee of the Japanese Communist Party
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