Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hegemonic Politics in the Age of Atomic Capitalism

by Yuki Natsui
(originally published September 2016)
(republished September 2016 on
Atomic capitalism (from top to bottom): electric power companies, industrial circles; governments, government-patronized scholars, administrative bodies; nuclear power culturati, mass media; urban citizens, consumers; nuclear power plant workers, inhabitants in the vicinity of nuclear power plants
Pax Americana may indeed have proved illusory by its own nature, eclipsed by the aggressive interventionism of a foreign policy based on military doctrines of full-spectrum dominance, nuclear primacy and preemptive strikes. With some eight hundred military bases encircling over seventy countries and territories, the preeminent nuclear-weapon state stands poised to embark on a trillion-dollar program to ‘modernize’ its nuclear arsenal and production facilities. Having instated the material and ideational dimensions of unrestrained global capitalism as its guiding principle, the United States treads uncharted territory as it negotiates an emerging configuration of bipolar rivalries, in relation to its principal adversaries on the Eurasian landmass, China and Russia.

It is Asia and the Pacific where the United States is ‘forward-deploying’ its military and diplomatic apparatuses, including the employment of soft power,[1] to counterpose the political engagement and economic development initiatives led by China, whose emerging power status it identifies as a ‘threat’ to its dominant position. In an overture to the Pivot, former assistant secretary of defense Joseph Nye stressed the linkage between regional hegemony and unrestricted access to external markets and power resources: “Over the course of this century, Asia will return to its historic status… America must be present there. Markets and economic power rest on political frameworks, and American military power provides that framework.”[2]

The notion of America’s Pacific Century in itself is a misnomer, not least because the implied reorientation in policy undermines the historical continuity of U.S. power and influence in the region.[3] There is clearly a hegemonic vision articulated in the Washington consensus, which has manifested in major regional pacts (e.g., Trans-Pacific Partnership) promoting ‘free trade’ in the climate of a liberal economic ‘order’, inextricable from the orientalist and imperialist imaginary that represents the Asia-Pacific as monolithic and to be mastered. In short, the Pivot aims to extend bilateral military partnerships and expand joint training exercises with countries in China’s politico-economic orbit. Strengthened military, economic and diplomatic ties with Japan, Mongolia and South Korea in Northeast Asia; Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia; Bangladesh and India in South Asia; Australia and New Zealand in Oceania, form the fulcrum for the ‘strategic turn’.
Thousands of South Korean residents hold up red banners reading “We absolutely oppose THAAD deployment,” during a rally against the planned deployment of the U.S.-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense in the southern town of Seongju | Reuters
Renewed commitment to allied forces has been met with daily resistance to naval bases and militarism. Unresolved contradictions of Japanese colonialism and Cold War authoritarianism faced by residents of Gangjeong village were exacerbated by the resumed construction of a U.S.-backed military base along the southern coast of Jeju Island[4] earlier this year, planned to accommodate Aegis-equipped destroyers, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered attack submarines. The ‘civilian-military’ project has exasperated local islanders and mainland organizers, who have strongly condemned the misleading title that distracts from its role as a lily-pad[5] in the broader missile defense program operated by the United States. In concurrence, the selection of Seongju County for the deployment of THAAD, slated for operation by U.S. military personnel early next year, follows an existing trend in which one battery was situated in Guam and two radars were installed in Japan at Shariki and Kyogamisaki. Little heed was paid to public disquiet over the dangers posed by the anti-ballistic missile system in escalating the regional arms race, or the risks of long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by the radar.

A legacy of suffering borne by Jeju Island parallels a history of deprivation endured by the Ryukyu Islands. The insistence on ‘relocating’ Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko coastal district of Nago is commensurate with the intent of completing work on new military helipads in the subtropical rainforests of Yanbaru. A wildlife sanctuary protected for its rich biodiversity and endemic biota, the life-nurturing forest remains vulnerable to accidents and incidents involving the MV-22 Osprey. Notorious for generating excessive noise and harmful low-frequency waves during flight, the defective tilt-rotor hybrid aircraft has been fiercely opposed by Takae residents of Higashi Village, who have taken direct action against the forcible construction of U.S. Marine Corps helipads that would be used for takeoff and landing. Sit-in protests organized to prevent further militarization of the forestlands were met with excessive crackdowns on resident villagers and their supporters by both mainland and prefectural riot police. The egregious disregard for local autonomy and democratic will is captured in the prodding of the carrot and the stick: “It is natural that the [development] budget will be reduced if there is no progress in the [base] work.”[6]
Riot police remove a sit-in protestor opposed to the construction of U.S. Marine Corps helipads in the village of Higashi in Okinawa | Okinawa Times
The U.S. military presence in the Pacific islands of Guam,[7] Hawaii,[8] Jeju, Okinawa and elsewhere, constitutes a key node in the virulent war machine that finds legitimacy in its exerted capacity to erode distinct sociocultural identities while rendering its global footprint invisible. In the popular consciousness, the history of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands had been readily consigned to the dustbin, along with the specter of mass expropriation of land and natural resources driven by the expansion of live-fire training ranges[9] in Pagan and Tinian of the Northern Mariana Islands. The militarization of distant islands and the attendant risks of armed conflict and environmental destruction receive little attention because extreme inequalities and structural violence imposed upon indigenous peoples and marginalized groups are not held as priorities.

Since the Pivot was outlined by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and implemented by President Barack Obama, the regional dispute in the South China Sea, for instance, has been needlessly elevated to the sphere of international arbitration, likely the locus of a future Sino-American conflict. Subsequent U.S. intervention into the maritime delimitation and territorial sovereignty issue was justified as a matter of ensuring ‘freedom of navigation’, protecting ‘unimpeded lawful commerce’ and upholding ‘rules-based peaceful resolution of disputes’. On July 12th, an ad hoc tribunal formed pursuant to the UNCLOS, to which the United States is non-signatory, ruled in favor of the Philippines and against China over its claimed ‘historic rights’ to the waters.[10] While the landmark decision has pointed toward long-term diplomatic solutions, U.S. intransigence over ‘unfettered access’ to the South China Sea would seem to involve the deployment of additional military assets, including anti-ship ballistic missiles, carrier battle groups, long-range strategic bombers, and as one scholar notes,[11] ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons.

The U.S. nuclear umbrella unequivocally provides the underpinning for America’s leadership of the Pivot and concomitant geostrategy to dissuade member states from pursuing their own weapons programs. As Vice President Joe Biden has recently affirmed, the United States “wrote Japan’s constitution to say they couldn’t be a nuclear power.”[12] To this day, Japan remains in legal limbo with respect to its designation as an ‘enemy state’ under the UN Charter, thus unable to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for greater international leverage. A network of bilateral and multilateral military agreements was carefully circumscribed so as to preclude efforts at rapprochement or regional cooperation and integration independent of American influence. Special relationships (e.g., Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore) with the United States are protracted by capitalizing on existing tensions, frictions and disputes in the region, thereby reaffirming the ‘essential nature’ and ‘indispensable role’ of the econo-military alliance. In sum, the Pivot can be framed as a tacit reassertion of Cold War containment policies that finds its telos in prolonging America’s unipolar moment, which accords its privileged position as an arbiter of interstate conflicts.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Shirane-class destroyer leads a formation with Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers | United States Navy
In the case of Japan, the demise of Pax Americana is matched by a rise of jingoism in which the central government has openly romanticized the criminality of the country’s imperial past, as evinced in its desire to elevate the position of the Emperor from ‘symbol’ to ‘head of state’. An extant ethos of revisionism, both constitutional and historical, was institutionalized in the LDP’s policy agenda dating back to its formation in November 1955. In the House of Councillors election of July 2016, the Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acquired a full majority, for the first time in twenty seven years, and with its junior coalition partners, secured the two-thirds majority needed to initiate the process of amendment. Abe has since then reshuffled his Cabinet to accommodate neo-nationalist ideologues stalwart to Nippon Kaigi, an extra-parliamentary association that remains unapologetic to erstwhile pan-Asianist inclinations and dedicated to resurrecting ‘the national character of a beautiful tradition’ centered on the Imperial Household.

Not ‘feeling the bird’, the Tokyo electorate opted against veteran journalist Shuntaro Torigoe in favor of former defense minister Yuriko Koike as its new (female) governor. An advocate for incorporating ‘moral education’ across the national curriculum with the aim of ‘clarifying standards for unacceptable conduct’, Koike has been no less enthusiastic of Oya Gaku (Parenting Studies),[13] a discriminatory practice that posits developmental delay as a product of ‘improper parenting’ and the need for parents to be educated about ‘correct childrearing’. Devoted to the privatization and devolution of state assets such as national universities, she has voiced opposition to school systems operated by the Zainichi Korean community, in addition to foreign immigration and non-Japanese electoral participation. Her brand of feminism can be distilled as a faux modality wherein Japan’s ‘underutilized strengths’ are funneled through public policies that attach priority to maximizing economic growth over challenging prevailing assumptions that undergird ethnic and gender relations. Such welfare chauvinism forms the basis for Koike’s political platform of ‘fortitude’, ‘steadfastness’ and ‘tenacity’, which has been receptive to hardline policies like nuclear armament, nuclear technology exports and unconstitutional court-martials.

The selection of an iron butterfly as metropolitan governor dovetails with the appointment of a militant hawk, or former reform minister Tomomi Inada, as the new defense minister. Once likened to Jeanne d’Arc by the incumbent prime minister, the former chairwoman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council has demanded that “lives be sacrificed” and “blood be spilt” in the defense of the state,[14] in accordance with the ideas of Seicho-no-Ie (House of Growth), a key tributary of a predecessor organization to Nippon Kaigi. A regular visitor of Yasukuni Shrine, Inada has been a staunch defender of wartime atrocities carried out by the Japanese military, not delimited to the mass killings of civilians or the use of forced labor, including the forceful recruitment of women for ‘comfort stations’, and has even spearheaded a party committee to reevaluate the legal basis of the Tokyo War Crimes tribunals. Judicially acknowledged earlier this year, Inada’s affiliation to the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai can be regarded as assent to xenophobic abuse directed at minority communities, helping to solidify Abe’s support base.

While the expressed desire to ‘take back Japan’ under other circumstances would have signified a fundamental overhaul of American-imposed institutions, the Abe government instead has pursued the reverse course toward entrenchment, effectively anchoring the country’s status as a client state.[15] With Abe at helm, the advent of the LDP-led administration inaugurated the ‘escape from the postwar regime’ with a perplexing decision to further subordinate its military apparatuses to the United States, marked by closer relations with Australia and India in forging an Indo-Pacific ‘security diamond’, as well as increased suppliance of maritime patrol boats to Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Bureaucratic inertia and coordination failure was resolved by centralizing executive power and enforcement discretion through the establishment of a new national security council, modeled after its Anglo-American counterparts, with the objective of fielding a CIA or MI6-style intelligence agency in the long run. Manufacturing consent to rectify the ‘masochistic’ view of history and transform Japan into a ‘normal country’ was also required to elicit the desired shift in public opinion. The targeting of critical levers of state power such as the Bank of Japan, the Cabinet Legislative Bureau, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was honed by a draconian state secrecy law designed to marginalize and persecute critical journalists, dissentient thinkers and peace organizers.
Tokyo District Court officials remove tents set up by anti-nuclear groups on the premises of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in the government district of Kasumigaseki | Kyodo
Even without constitutional revision or the hotly contested military legislation steamrolled last summer, Japan had long deviated from its ‘pacifist’ trajectory, having provided the material and logistic assistance needed for American military adventures in the Koreas, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Since the Persian Gulf Wars, Japan has closely cooperated with the United States toward developing next-generation missile interceptors, networked with fighter-interceptor aircraft and surface-to-air missiles, and in recent years, has significantly eased restrictions on arms exports to transfer the missile defense system to third countries. Ranked as one of the world’s top military spenders, Japan now contemplates a record $51 billion defense budget for fiscal year 2017, embracing new military hardware such as the F-35 stealth fighter, the most expensive conventional weapons system to date.

Aspiring for ‘national resilience’ and ‘proactive pacifism’, Abe has consolidated his politico-military reforms under an eponymous program of economic policies and practices. Abenomics, a macroeconomic policy quiver of ultra-lax monetary and fiscal arrows vaunted to stimulate growth, merely rehashed the neoliberal principles of its predecessors, with the privatization of public assets and the dismantling of regulatory structures as its corporeal targets. Of a pork-barrel variety, lavish spending on infrastructure projects had been more than offset by corporate tax cuts and sales tax hikes, which has led precisely to lowered real wages and reduced welfare benefits.[16] In the ‘true spirit of risk-taking and innovation’, the precedence given to large-scale oligopolies, primarily to those in the energy, financial and nuclear complexes, simply reinforced their extractive logics and technologies that have rendered more aspects of the ‘global economy’ subject to capital accumulation.

The tightened nexus between government and enterprise had preceded the uncritical acceptance of neoliberal reforms, in which the production of fissile materials was, in no small measure, sheltered from the harsh discipline of competitive markets. Where deemed necessary, such as in the procurement of ‘strategic’ resources considered vital to national security, state interventionism comported with the economic analysis. In spite of the radiological disasters threatened by Chernobyl, Fukushima and Hanford, the Japanese government has assiduously promoted exports of ‘dual-use’ components with both civilian and military applications, having concluded accords with Jordan, Kuwait, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam (under the DPJ), and with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (under the LDP). As nuclear ambassador, Abe has been negotiating agreements with Brazil, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Thailand, among others,[17] although it remains to be seen whether such grandiose plans will actually come to fruition.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands on a pipe dressed as Mario at the 2016 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro | Kyodo
Attitudes unaltered and lessons not learned from Fukushima, the central government pressed forward with its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Abe’s cameo at the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro can be traced back to his presentation at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires assuring the situation at the crippled nuclear power plant was ‘under control’. Newer evidence that fallout on Tokyo from the meltdown was concentrated and deposited in non-soluble glass microparticles[18] runs counter to the assertion that the incident ‘has never done and will never do any damage’. Five and a half years since the triple meltdown, with the exact conditions and locations of the corium unconfirmed, a lack of resources allocated to stem radioactive contamination and radiation exposure, and tens of thousands of residents from the stricken Tohoku region still displaced from their homes, Abe’s statement was absurd as to be patently irresponsible.

With regard to the thousands of black industrial storage bags filled with irradiated soil and debris stored on the outskirts of Fukushima City, one cardiologist from the National Academy of Sciences laments, “The lack of security, the failure to provide any of the internationally accepted protective warnings against radioactivity contamination, the absence of any warning signs for non-Japanese-speaking individuals, despite the active advertising campaign to attract tourists to view the cherry blossoms on this beautiful region of Japan, is disturbing. The possibility that individuals could access enormous amounts of radioactively contaminated dirt and transport it to a sensitive area in Japan or elsewhere is frightening.”[19]

On June 30th, the Ministry of the Environment arrived at a decision to allow the reuse of radioactively contaminated soil for public-works projects in violation of Act No. 166 of 1957, which specifies one hundred Bq/kg or less as the criteria for recycling concrete and metals derived from nuclear power plants. Raising the threshold eighty-fold up to eight thousand Bq/kg for reusing radioactive materials was considered “reasonable from economic and social points of view.”[20] On August 12th, the No. 3 Unit at the Ikata nuclear power plant was restarted, at present the only operating reactor to burn plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel, posing additional and yet unknown hazards. Notwithstanding the raft of safety issues and evacuation plans left unaddressed, opposition to the restart was dismissed on the belief that “an accident similar to that in Fukushima will never happen.”[21]
Anti-nuclear protesters stage a rally outside the Ikata nuclear power plant in the western prefecture of Ehime | Kyodo
Such tactics of minimization and rationalization form the basis for enclavic groupthink, regulatory capture and techno-scientific consensus, which inform how the state manages the welfare of its population. In concert with the pragmatic calculus, the market-oriented mode of governance functions to administer a specific problem-solution frame[22] that suppresses alternative conceptions, while substituting the discourse of public accountability for the vernacular of ‘personal responsibility’. Accordingly, the notion of autonomous and self-regulating individuals is invoked as a justification for the socialization of costs and risks. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the systematic pathologization of health concerns as ‘irrational’ or ‘unscientific’ was accompanied by the imposition of self-management through flexibility of safety standards, manipulation of dosimeter readings and neglect for workers’ rights. Subcontract laborers dispatched to decommission the site consisted mostly of the debilitated and dispossessed, including foreign migrants and homeless people, with little oversight by the electric power company. For other evacuee groups split into ‘temporary’ dwellings, the Village mantra held with a proselytizing zeal that ‘the effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing; they come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret’.

In the context of social inequality, ecological degradation and depleted resources, the demonstrated willingness to spend extravagantly on nuclear-industrial programs, public relations campaigns and state-of-the-art weaponry may fare especially poorly with older and newer generations of hibakusha,[23] whose cautionary tales would appear to have been overshadowed by the very spectacles of mushroom clouds and smoke plumes. Equipped with excess plutonium reserves, Japan stands as one of few ‘latent’ nuclear powers to possess the technological infrastructure needed to rapidly develop a nuclear arsenal, notably retaining the fast breeder reactor and its closed fuel cycle as official government policy. Prospects for ‘reform’ are likely to recede, given how state operations have been firmly captured by a predatory politico-economic system dominated by the military-industrial complex.
“The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, the eternal ruling party,” according to ‘Pokemon Go’ | Sankei
If there is to be a fatalist logic of insecurity that has embroiled nation-states in a downward spiral of arms races and military competitions, it must also be inherent to the doctrines of nuclear ‘deterrence’ and mutually assured destruction said to define the postwar present. The veritable utility of nuclear weapons as coercive instruments in determining parameters and enforcing dictates has nonetheless rendered their continued centrality in modern state apparatuses as non-negotiable.[24] In line with such formulations of national security, countries like China, Japan, Russia and the United States have actively supported nuclear power generation within and outside their borders. Transcending differences among states in ideology and self-conception, the enhancement of nuclear preemptive, interceptive and retaliatory capabilities has been coterminous with the expansion of nuclear power stations, production facilities and reprocessing plants, amid stated commitments to building a sustainable peace in an era of permanent war and restoring trust in national polities that are more secretive and less democratic.

Where government authorities have overseen an escalation of maritime militia operations in the East and South China Seas,[25] and have applauded Japan’s pivotal role as America’s ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’ in the region, any potential confrontation may one day erupt into a major conflagration. Preventing a full-fledged conflict in Asia and the Pacific persists in the immediate halt to the construction of artificial islands, military bases and radar facilities, decoupled from the aegises of Pax Americana and Pax Sinica, toward a non-hegemonic vision of demilitarization and denuclearization. In light of the dissolution of student activist groups, the stagnation of citizen’s federations and the fragmentation of opposition camps in mainland Japan, it is imperative the underlying conditions of atomization and depoliticization that occlude the chain of equivalence be inverted. Will the question of Power be given due consideration, or will any viable notion of collective resistance be kept at bay until the next nuclear meltdown?

[1] Eric Draitser, “Academic Imperialism: US Uses Education to Undermine China in Asia,” New Eastern Outlook, June 30, 2016.
[2] Joseph S. Nye Jr., “The Right Way to Trim Military Spending,” The New York Times, August 4, 2011.
[3] John Feffer, “The Militarization of Paradise,” Foreign Policy In Focus, November 11, 2011.
[4] Joseph Gerson, “Reinforcing Washington’s Asia-Pacific Hegemony,” Foreign Policy In Focus, September 13, 2012.
[5] David Vine, “The Lily-Pad Strategy,” TomDispatch, July 15, 2012.
[6] “Minister warns: Base delays may result in smaller Okinawa budget,” The Asahi Shimbun, August 5, 2016.
[7] Jon Letman, “Guam: Where the US Military Is Revered and Reviled,” The Diplomat, August 29, 2016.
[8] Jon Letman, “Hawaii’s Legal Case Against the United States,” Truthout, December 13, 2010.
[9] Wyatt Olson, “Mariana officials bristle at US military’s live-fire plans for Pagan, Tinian,” Stars and Stripes, April 17, 2015.
[10] Goh Sui Noi, Raul Dancel, Kor Kian Beng, Jermyn Chow, “China has no historic rights to resources in South China Sea, says UN-backed tribunal,” The Straits Times, July 12, 2016.
[11] Peter Lee, “RAND’s ‘Unthinkable’ war with China,” Asia Times, August 12, 2016.
[12] Peter Landers, “Biden Gets Japan’s Attention With Nuclear Remark”, The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2016.
[13] “言動を知るほど危うい 小池百合子氏の「子育て・教育論」”, Nikkan Gendai, July 29, 2016.
[14] “防衛相に抜擢された稲田朋美の軍国主義丸出し発言集!「祖国のために命を捧げろ」「後に続くと靖国に誓え」”, LITERA, August 2, 2016.
[15] Gavan McCormack, Client State: Japan in the American Embrace (New York: Verso, 2007).
[16] Gavan McCormack, “Resilience for Whom?”, Jacobin, August 12, 2016.
[17] “The Current State of Japan’s Nuclear Power Plant Export Plans,” Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, March 30, 2014.
[18] “Fukushima Radioactive Glass Microparticles In Tokyo Confirm Other Findings,” SimplyInfo, June 29, 2016.
[19] Andrew R. Marks, “The Fukushima nuclear disaster is ongoing,” The Journal of Clinical Investigation, May 23, 2016.
[20] “Reuse of radioactive soil could cut costs by 1.5 trillion yen: ministry estimate,” The Mainichi, August 3, 2016.
[21] “Grave concerns remain over restart of Ikata nuclear plant,” The Mainichi, August 17, 2016.
[22] Majia Holmer Nadesan, Governmentality, Biopower, and Everyday Life (New York: Routledge, 2008).
[23] Ryan Masaaki Yokota, “‘No more hibakusha’ takes on new meaning after 3/11,” The Japan Times, August 7, 2013.
[24] Joseph Gerson and John Feffer, “Empire and Nuclear Weapons,” Foreign Policy In Focus, November 30, 2007.
[25] Jesse Johnson, “Chinese Senkaku swarm tactic spells trouble for Japan,” The Japan Times, August 7, 2016.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Reflections on the Pulse nightclub shooting

A makeshift memorial to remember the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City. | Reuters
America is engaged in a war on terror, it is said. Under such circumstances, terrorists are designated as rogue actors who carry out an act of violence against a foreign entity, usually associated with Western societies. But what is absent in this denotation, one that has been reproduced and legitimated in the mainstream, is how the United States has appropriated discourses on terrorism toward exercising its power and influence over everyday life. “Terror,” as situated in the neoliberal era, cannot be defined and articulated in individualistic or atomistic terms. It must be understood for what it is: a manifestation of state violence against the backdrop of a long-standing history of colonialism and imperialism.

The Pulse nightclub massacre illustrates how the past can be rewritten and whitewashed, so as to normalize practices of state terrorism against marginalized and oppressed groups in the present. It was decried as the “worst mass shooting in United States history,”[1] at odds with a colonial legacy of genocide and slavery directed toward indigenous and black peoples over generations.[2] It was then distilled as an episode of terrorism motivated by religious extremism and mental illness, in isolation from the volatilities of global capitalism and its attendant ideology of market fundamentalism. Politicians of various stripes, including the self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, have exploited the incident to generate support for increased military action vis-a-vis the Islamic State,[3] in spite of the fact that the assailant was an American citizen, not known to have any connections to the organization.[4] Accordingly, Islam is implicated as the cause of the carnage that took place during the Latin-themed night, as part of a strategy to divide and pit communities of color against one another. The penchant for binary modes of thinking, “the West versus the Rest,” is indulged by constructing a dehumanized image of the “other,” solidifying a racial caste system that encourages infighting at the expense of finite resources.

Meanwhile, liberal pundits such as Rachel Maddow exclaim how the gay community has been “forged in fire,”[5] when the attack is more accurately a product of a hierarchical order that has for centuries abused, harassed and stigmatized queer people of color. Restricting the lexicon to words such as “terrorism” is convenient, in part because it obviates the need to reflect on the state’s domestic and foreign policies that, in their attempt to build consensus, criminalize difference and dissent. It masks how cultural and educational apparatuses like the media, in addition to state institutions such as the courts and the police, are complicit in the oppression and subjugation of queer and colored bodies in private and public spaces. More crucially, it is dismissive of the aggressive and hypermasculinized practices of policing, surveillance and torture, alongside the gendered and racialized norms imposed by white patriarchy.

The priests and prophets of the neoliberal clergy, largely responsible for misery and suffering on a planetary scale, profess that such injustices are self-deserved. The puritan motives of the messianic right become all too apparent when it is asserted that the targets of mass murder had in fact “reaped what they sowed.”[6] In this manner, the Pulse shooting massacre can be viewed as another incidence of violence inflicted by the state, which deflects and denies accountability for its destructive actions. Faithful to the shock doctrine is an instrumentalist politics that had produced the man-made disaster of Hurricane Katrina, the criminalization of poverty in Ferguson and the uranium contamination of Navajo lands, primarily at the risk of communities that have been dispossessed of their rights and are considered disposable.[7]

At the other end of the spectrum, moral superiority when it comes to defending minorities is proclaimed under a banner of progressivism. In neoliberal America, historical memory is erased as the notion of time is lost in a stream of fragmented knowledge. The welfare state is retrenched, urban areas are gentrified and public spheres are privatized, developments of which are most devastating to socially and economically marginalized populations. The language of identity politics is misappropriated, as the constructs of race, gender and sexuality are essentialized, depoliticized and commercialized.[8] The shibboleths of the left are increasingly absorbed by market values, limited to an elite class that thrives on the wealth accrued through capitalist and imperialist modes of domination. Across Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa, black and brown bodies are bombed, displaced and relegated to 
“collateral damage,” subject to a certain necropolitics that remains unapologetic to the cynical calculus of state-sponsored assassination and drone warfare.

s war on terror gradually transforms into one that makes a mockery of civil liberties and the democratic process, mimicking the activities it purports to deter. The Pulse nightclub massacre must be framed in this larger context of homophobia, misogyny and imperialism, in which people of invisible caste are categorized as both victims and perpetrators in order to reinforce the status quo. Such tragedies are symptomatic of a capitalist society engulfed in bigotry, fear and racism that foments anti-black and anti-gay attitudes, mobilizes ressentiment into militancy and assents to state-sanctioned cults of violence. It propels the militarization of every facet of life, allowing those in power to obscure the real dangers of empire by reducing them to constituent matters of gun control, hate crime and police brutality.[9] The internal logics of the judicial system then operate as a mechanism to persecute and incarcerate dissidents and politically inconvenient figures, disproportionately people of color and non-normative gender and sexual expressions, tightening the nexus between state terrorism and the prison-industrial complex.[10]

In the broadest view, the discourse of war and terrorism informs a self-conception that manifests in the realms of international and interpersonal relations. State violence undertakes a normalizing and depoliticizing role, as it obfuscates the oppressive forces that incapacitate human agency, engendering the conditions under which atrocities like the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub come into existence. One cannot be deceived by the neoliberal state grounded in the ritual speech of mantra, that it is not possible to connect individual problems with systemic issues. Unless the triplets of racism, capitalism and militarism are confronted, and the linkages between individual and collective struggles are made, it is difficult to imagine how the submerged identities within colored and queer communities can be liberated from the structures aimed at silencing and rendering them invisible.

[1] Lizette Alvarez and Richard Pérez-Peña, Orlando Gunman Attacks Gay Nightclub, Leaving 50 Dead (The New York Times, June 12, 2016), Access:
[2] Carla Blank,
Purging History: Was Orlando Really the Worst Massacre in US History? (CounterPunch, June 17, 2016), Access:
[3] Sanders: “ISIS must be destroyed” (Reuters, June 12, 2016), Access:
[4] Spencer Ackerman,
CIA has not found any link between Orlando killer and Isis, says agency chief (The Guardian, June 16, 2016), Access:
[5] Maddow: Gay community in US ‘forged in fire’ (MSNBC, June 13, 2016), Access:
[6] Patrick Svitek, 
Dan Patrick Takes Heat for Posts After Orlando Shooting (The Texas Tribune, June 12, 2016), Access:
[7] Leslie Thatcher, Henry Giroux on State Terrorism and the Ideological Weapons of Neoliberalism (Truthout, February 28, 2016), Access:
[8] Aviva Chomsky, Tomgram: Will the Millenial Movement Rebuild the Ivory Tower or Be Crushed by It? (TomDispatch, May 22, 2016), Access:
[9] Yasmin Nair, A Look at How Liberals Led America Into Having the Highest Prison Rate in The World (AlterNet, October 4, 2014), Access:
[10] Mark Karlin, Michelle Alexander on the Irrational Race Bias of the Criminal Justice and Prison Systems (Truthout, August 1, 2012), Access:

Further reading
Nico Lang, Call the Orlando massacre a hate crime: This was an attack on the LGBT community—and that matters (Salon, June 13, 2016), Access:
FBI Told Orlando Shooter’s Wife Not to Tell US Media He Was Gay (TeleSUR, June 16, 2016), Access:
Michelle Chen, Targeting Queer People of Color in the Name of ‘National Security’ (The Nation, June 16, 2016), Access:
FBI Tried to Lure Orlando Shooter into a Terror Plot in 2013 (TeleSUR, June 19, 2016), Access:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kakuteru Pātī 「カクテル・パーティー」


The Cocktail Party by Tatsuhiro Oshiro explores a myriad of issues spanning wartime experience, public memory and civic responsibility as situated during the American occupation of Okinawa and following the Okinawa reversion to Japan. This essay examines a set of national attitudes peddled by the United States (defined here as “America’s Okinawa”) in relation to the unfolding alternative hegemony that seeks to challenge the injustices of American extraterritoriality and the oppressive power structures that have been present in Okinawan society. It also makes an attempt to identify the factors involved in the construction of Okinawan identity in relation to the presence of American military bases and their impact on everyday and institutional life.

Language parity

Unlike the Japanese fictions American School and American Hijiki, the Okinawan drama The Cocktail Party does not place the focus on power relations that revolve around linguistic hierarchies. The protagonist, Mr. Uehara, appears to have no difficulty speaking multiple languages, and articulateness does not seem to confer dominance over others within the multiethnic Chinese-speaking circle. Instead, the Chinese language is primarily used as an instrument to create an illusion of parity while concealing the inequities inherent in the distribution of power. It is not a particular language that reflects and informs Okinawan identity, but rather a renewed acceptance of human agency that makes self-actualization feasible in a colonial setting.

America’s Okinawa

“America’s Okinawa” is a (post)-colonial narrative employed by the characters of Robert Harris and Mr. Miller, two archetypes of American exceptionalism when it comes to addressing power imbalances in an occupied society, as well as the attendant issues of marginalization, exploitation and cultural hegemony that have fueled mutual animosity and distrust between Americans and Okinawans.

The coherence to the occupier narrative is reliant on the subordination of dissent and antagonism to a generalized doctrine of “American-Ryukyuan friendship,” (Morgan, 220) which seeks to foster a sense of camaraderie that transcends national borders. This narrative encourages forgetting and forgiveness over remembrance and reflection while representing the Okinawan people as a lowly “peace-loving people” (Lincoln, 228) that is dismissive of their broad-based struggles for justice. It generates an image of the “occupied” that reinforces a mode of colonial mentality predicated on the acceptance of the dogma of the “occupier” as morally superior, while normalizing extant power imbalances as another instance of “peaceful life” (Uehara, 214).

“America’s Okinawa” also rests on a particular logic that distorts and deflects in order to portray the desired picture. This end is achieved by consolidating matters that concern individuals into those which concerns nationals, and vice-versa. Harris utilizes this strategy of reducing individuals from complex beings to mere spokespersons of their respective nations:

“What an underhanded trick! You can’t fool me. It is an undeniable fact that she injured me. And I know I don’t have to testify in any Okinawan court. I know that much about the law… I’ve heard Uehara here was an officer in the Japanese army and fought in China. [To Uehara.] Didn’t you kill Chinese? Do you think you have the right to judge me?... How about Mr. Lawyer there. You’re Chinese. How could you work for a former Japanese officer?” (Harris, 238)
Miller later employs this same tactic of deception, but in reverse:
“We should talk to each other as individuals. If I knew this Robert Harris, my involvement would make sense. But, like you, I’m a complete stranger to him… I really hate to say this, but quite honestly, I have no evidence that Robert Harris actually did something shameful, and I’m in no position to investigate the case myself. That’s why Mr. Yang would be much better. He’s not an American and he is a lawyer, which makes him a logical intermediary.” (Miller, 232)
What is striking is the omission of power relations that belies the presumption held by Miller that it is the very absence of conflict that builds the trust and belief needed to sustain friendships between individuals:
“I would like you to remember that I’ve worked hard to build goodwill between America and Okinawa. It’s for a good reason I can’t help you: we need to avoid unnecessary conflicts if we are to preserve our friendship with Okinawans. Please understand this.” (Miller, 232)
By contrast, Uehara’s conception of reconciliation is based on the understanding that they are dependent on asserting difference and challenging the oppressive structures and functions in society that impose consensus — a practice known as radical democracy.

Uehara’s epiphany

There is good reason to delineate why Uehara has not been portrayed uniformly as a victim to be empathized with. Rather than romanticizing the plight of the Okinawans by depicting them as mere subjects of American imperialism, Oshiro makes an effort to implicate Okinawans as former colonizers who have stood to benefit from Japan’s imperial war machine. On the one hand, Uehara had once served as an army officer stationed in China, complicit in Japan’s destructive course of military expansionism across Asia. On the other hand, Uehara had also suffered greatly from the battles fought on the Ryukyu Islands that devastated his homeland and its people. Each of these considerations serve to probe the complicated relationship between Japan’s wartime atrocities and Okinawa’s prolonged sufferings. Alongside the issues of victimhood and reconciliation, Mr. Yang discusses the contours of ethics that governs how such decisions are made:

“But that’s where we must start—from life as it is. Speaking from my own limited experiences, there are things that can be solved by “legal rights and obligations.” Others, as if fated, may transcend the boundaries of such legalities. We survive by trying, in our own small ways, to hold on to our humanity while torn between the moral and the legal, the individual and the nation.” (Yang, 240-241)
This approach raises questions of whether accusations based narrowly on ethnic or national identity can be justified. How should private individuals be held accountable for the wrongdoings of their nation or their people? How could those affiliations be defined? It is from this context that Uehara makes the connection between his former and present positions and acknowledges his participation in Japanese imperialism as a form of assent (Uehara, 241). He then proposes a brand of ethics predicated on shared human values that he views as essential to restoring friendly relations:
“What is required most now is to be absolutely unforgiving of our sins. Let me repeat this: what I’m seeking is our mutual understanding of the ethics that are fundamental and unconditional for all humanity. What I want to indict is not just one crime by one young American, but the cocktail parties that would conceal fundamental ethics under the pretext of reconciliation… U.S. law establishes one kind of justice for the occupier and another for the occupied. As long as such injustice exists, your hopes will be illusory.” (Uehara, 246)
Uehara’s appeal to universal principles following his awakening may seem somewhat ineffectual, if not inimical, to solving the Okinawan predicament; but this epiphany is crucial in evoking the sense of civic agency needed to articulate the problem and confront the status quo. It is subsequently argued by Uehara that there are real power relations in society that are unequivocally oppressive and therefore should be made visible and contested.

Beyond legal realism

Oshiro also underscores the limits of a dispassionate analytic framework when it comes to the principles of justice and equality. What is central to this story is how the absence of mutual regard precludes efforts to build meaningful human connections and advance dialogue on historical issues. Under the narrative of “America’s Okinawa,” there is a certain tendency toward equivocation and ambiguity disguised under the cloak of legal-rational neutrality (Ben, 216-217). In response to Ben’s claim as a third-party observer, Uehara cautions him against making the “same mistake” (Uehara, 250) as his father did in Okinawa:

“By forcing yourself to forget something, you end up postponing a real solution… As countries and as individuals we are each victims and victimizers. Only by recognizing this fact, can a new millennium of reconciliation begin. We need to punish ourselves, and we need to be absolutely unforgiving of what we have done. Only by looking first at ourselves do we obtain the right to judge the other side. Choosing this path will cause us to suffer, but this is the only path that is humane.” (Uehara, 251-252)
The cocktail party, in essence, exists as a metaphor for cross-cultural encounters and conflicts between individuals. It involves a cascade of empty platitudes about friendship and equality against the backdrop of deep-seated anger and resentment over unresolved problems. It demonstrates how gestures of “international friendships” present new obstacles in a society that relies entirely on asymmetries in relative power. Uehara has been resolute in exposing the lopsided relationship in which Okinawans are placed in an unequal position that necessitates an appeal to basic morals subject to the harsh logic of the military courts. Uehara seeks to challenge these injustices by exposing those very imbalances in power, and at the same time, explain what it means to be Okinawan:
“It’s a matter of Okinawan dignity. No, it’s even more than that. It’s a matter of basic human dignity… I fought for fundamental human rights. For democracy. For a truthful understanding of ethics and justice.” (Uehara, 246-247)
Ultimately, Oshiro elucidates how the mutual recognition of wrongdoing can be pursued not only on the basis of naked self-interest, but more crucially on the understanding that the suppression of emotionally charged memories serves only to widen the rifts between the interlocutors who seek camaraderie and fraternity through dialogue and exchange.


Yet the remnants of Japanese imperialism in its totality become far less obvious than the U.S. military presence. Okinawan indignation toward mainland Japanese is largely diluted, especially when considering the scope of interactions between Uehara and Ogawa. Uehara is unavailable when Ogawa provides a revisionist argument in his debate with Morgan on whether Okinawans are Japanese nationals (Ogawa, 218). What is more, Ogawa absolves himself from any moral obligation to help defend Uehara’s case (Ogawa, 235) or assume wartime responsibility for the Japanese treatment of the Chinese (Ogawa, 236-237). As such, it is uncertain whether a distinction can be made safely between Uehara’s identification as an Okinawan who resists American occupation and as one who seeks full independence.

Furthermore, the role of women in The Cocktail Party appears to be confined to reluctant negotiators between the “occupiers” and the “occupied,” (Yoko, 247) or an immediate gateway to reconciliation through marriage (Yoko, 215). Compared to their male counterparts, Okinawan women are portrayed as lacking the agency needed for organizing the localities to eliminate extraterritoriality rights and privileges afforded to U.S. military personnel, and to reject the status of forces agreement that validates the American military presence in Okinawa.

The construction of Okinawan identity through the lens of social justice may also suffer from the bias of overlooking the trends of cultural mimesis and appropriation that extend beyond the racialized and imperialist dimensions of American hegemony, as articulated by James E. Roberson. Further investigation that considers the aforementioned details and includes diasporic experiences, however, is required to fully appreciate how historical and cultural relations between Okinawans and Americans have mediated the development of Okinawan social identities.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Remapping Revisionism: Japan’s Nuclear Ambiguity 「修正主義の再創造: 原子力への曖昧さ」

by Yuki Natsui
(originally published May 2016)
(republished May 2016 on
Maritime Self-Defense Force ships gather for a fleet review near Sagami Bay | Koichi Kamoshida

This essay provides an overview of the historical attempts to revise the Constitution of Japan (promulgated in November 1946) and the issues that have been present in the resurgent anti-war movement to counter the loosening of constitutional restraints on the abuse of power. It also provides a discussion of the driving forces behind constitutional revision as situated in relation to the regional balance of power maintained under an American politico-military aegis. It is argued that the formations underpinning constitutional revision, legitimized by successive regimes of government, preclude efforts to advance dialogue on the risks and externalities posed by the preservation and maintenance of the country’s plutonium economy and security apparatus.

On Article 9 and the Cold War

Restraints placed on militarism by Article 9, which renounces war as a ‘sovereign right’ and outlaws the ‘use of force’ as a means of settling international disputes,[1] have served as a constitutional and legal bulwark against decisions to permit greater Japanese involvement in the international collective security system. Yet proposals to lift these restraints have often been received in the narrow sense of the possibility that Japanese soldiers might someday be deployed alongside its allies to participate in overseas military adventures. Revisionism cannot be viewed in isolation as an instance of postwar phenomena, but rather must be understood carefully in relation to the contemporary situation of the Cold War. It is an appropriate term insofar as it conveys the tension between power blocs over competing claims on spheres of influence, accompanied by military strategies in which direct ‘hot’ conflicts involving nuclear arsenals are less preferable to indirect ‘cold’ conflicts restricted to conventional forms of warfare. It is more constructive to frame regional complexities in the Asia-Pacific as a continuation of existing historical trends,[2] with consideration given to how the distribution and utilization of nuclear technologies have instated nuclear weapons as political instruments for projecting military and economic power across the globe.
「国権」の発動たる戦争と国際紛争を解決する手段としての「武力の行使」を放棄するという憲法9条による軍事力の制限は[1]、国際的な集団安全保障システムへの日本のより大きな関与を認めようという論議から、憲法・法律的な防波堤となってきた。これまで、この制限を撤廃しようとする提案は、しばしば、日本の自衛隊員が同盟国に巻き込まれる形で、その軍事的冒険に参加するべく派遣されるのではないかという狭義の話として受け取られてきた。修正主義は、戦後事象の一例としてのみとらえるべきではなく、むしろ、現代の冷戦状況の文脈において注意深く理解されるべきものである。「冷戦」とは、地球上において対立する主張を持つ勢力圏間の緊張を表す限りにおいては適切な用語である。 すなわち、核兵器を含む直接的な「熱戦」は、伝統的な意味での戦争に限定される「冷たい」紛争より好ましくない。アジア太平洋地域の複雑性を、核兵器を、地球上における軍事的・経済的な力を投影する政治的なツールとして位置づけ、原子力技術をいかに分配し利用するかを、継続する歴史的な傾向として構成する[2]ことの方がより建設的である。

Politics of constitutional revisionism

In concurrence with progressive reforms to dismantle Japan’s imperial military complex and restructure its civil and industrial institutions, the new government formulated and promulgated the Constitution of Japan under the directive of General Douglas MacArthur and his staff. Though initially met with opposition from conservative voices, it has never been amended since its enactment in May 1947. Constitutional revision had been sidelined as a political issue throughout the 1960s and 1980s, a period characterized by tremendous social unrest—notably the ANPO struggle, as well as the protests of 1968 and the emergence of the New Left—and, on the other end, by impressive economic growth and rise in urban consumerism. By the 1990s, following the end of the Gulf Wars, commitments to a doctrine of unarmed neutrality had largely been displaced by campaigns for constitutional revision in response to pressures to fulfill international norms of multilateral peacekeeping. In 1994, the Yomiuri Shimbun published its set of suggestions for amendment, reigniting a polarizing debate that has since guided public discourse. While leftists, progressives and pacifists sought to maintain the existing Constitution, conservatives, populists and nationalists advocated for provisions that would expand Japan’s contribution to international society. Changes in public opinion on Article 9 also occurred alongside nuclear confrontations between the United States and North Korea, as well as the country’s unilateral claims to preemptive self-defense with regard to the launching of the Taepodong-1 over Japanese territory.[3]

Since its formation in 1955, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan has maintained constitutional revision as its key policy platform, although attempts over the decades to carry out amendment had faltered due to popular resistance. In April 2012, the Liberal Democratic Party proposed a new eleven-chapter draft amendment comprising one hundred ten articles, with a desire to “unshackle the country from the system established during the Occupation and make Japan a truly sovereign state.”[4] In recent years, the LDP led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has displayed a stronger commitment to constitutional revision, placing it as a top administrative priority. Alongside a series of provisions that could have a considerable impact on the universality of natural rights, the ruling coalition has set forth proposals to replace the existing Self-Defense Forces with a National Defense Military.[5] This new section uses the term ‘軍’, connoting an established army or military. These proposed changes are significant because the scope of SDF operations has traditionally been restricted to exercising ‘individual self-defense’, as well as providing auxiliary support to UN-mandated peacekeeping missions following the enactment of the International Peace Cooperation Law in 1992.[6] The NDM represents a complete transformation of the SDF into a permanent military institution with the Prime Minister as its supreme commander.
1955年の結党以来、自由民主党は、一貫して憲法改正を党綱領に掲げてきたが、改正の試みは国民の抵抗により行き詰ってきた。2012年4月、「占領時代に確立されたシステムから脱却、日本を真の主権国家にする」[4]という望みを持って、自由民主党は11章110条からなる憲法改正案を提案した。近年、安倍晋三首相に率いられた自民党は、憲法改正にさらに強くコミットしており、政権の最優先課題のひとつと位置付けている。自然権の普遍性に対して少なからぬ影響を与えるかもしれない一連の条文に加えて、連立与党は現在の自衛隊を国防軍に置き換えようと提案している。[5] この新しい条文は、常設のarmyまたはmilitaryを含意する「軍」という用語を使っている。この変更案は重大である。何故ならば、自衛隊の作戦行動の範囲は伝統的に個別自衛権の範囲に、1992年の国際平和維持協力法の施行以来、国連軍の平和維持活動への支援の範囲に、制限されてきたからだ。[6] 国防軍は、内閣総理大臣を最高司令官とし、自衛隊を常設の軍隊に完全に改組するものである。

It should be recalled that America’s ‘reverse course’ policies toward Japan relied on steady rearmament and politico-economic stabilization in response to the growing perception of a Communist threat in the region. Upon the eruption of the Korean War in the early 1950s, the National Police Reserve was introduced as measure to reinforce domestic security. With the support and urging of the United States, the NPR was reorganized as the National Safety Forces in 1952, and was subsequently renamed the Self-Defense Forces in 1954.[7] Proposals outlined in the draft amendment would appear to indicate this regress in the focus of SDF operations. The new provisions enable the government to restrict and subordinate individual rights and freedoms (of assembly and of association) to the ‘public interest and public order’, rather than protect them under the ‘public welfare’. Concerns loom over the prospect that the NDM may also be assigned for internal security tasks such as law enforcement, police surveillance and counterinsurgency efforts.[8] The blueprint also includes a section granting the Prime Minister the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ under prevailing conditions, in which the Cabinet can enact orders having an effect tantamount to that of laws passed by a Diet resolution.[9]
これは、地域における共産主義の知覚の広がりに対応するための、着実な再軍備化と政治社会的な安定化に基づく米国の「反転」政策を思い起こさせる。1950年代の朝鮮戦争の勃発に伴い、国内の安全保障のために警察予備隊が設置された。米国の支持と要請により、警察予備隊は1952年に保安隊に改組され、1954年に自衛隊と改称された。[7] 改正案に示される提案は、自衛隊の行動におけるこの逆行を表すものだ。この新条文は、政府が、よりも「公共の利益と公共の秩序」のために、個人の権利と(集会および結社の)自由を、「公共の福祉」のもとでそれらを保護するのではなく、制限し従属させることを可能にする。国防軍は 法の強制、警察の監視や内乱の鎮圧等の国際安全保障任務に就かされるのではないかとの懸念もある。[8] 青写真には、内閣総理大臣に「非常事態」を宣言する権限を与える条項を含んでいる。非常事態が宣言された場合、議会が承認した法律と同様の効果をもたらす指令を出すことができる。[9]

Trends in domestic and foreign policy

These constitutional amendments should be considered together with the reactionary trends of historical revisionism, educational reform and media manipulation observed under the LDP-dominated political system. In December 2006, a complete revision of the Fundamental Law of Education was formulated and passed in order to nurture compatriotism and stronger regard for traditional family values.[10] The language used throughout the text would seem to elevate the state over the individual,[11] displaying tendencies normally confined to wartime regimes of government. Diet groups such as the Nippon Kaigi organization have also been committed to popularizing conservative values such as ‘moral education’, centrality of the imperial family and respect for the national flag and the national anthem, principles inherent in the draft amendment.[12]
これらの憲法改正の動きは、自民党主導の政治システムにおける、歴史修正主義や教育改革、報道修正といった反動的な傾向と併せて検討されなければならない。2006年12月、愛国主義の涵養と伝統的な家族観への回帰を目的とした教育基本法の抜本改正が審議可決された。[10] 条文の根底に流れるのは、個人よりも国家を上位に置き[11]、通常であれば戦時下においてのみ政府に与えられる傾向を示すものである。日本会議国会議員懇談会のような議会グループは、改正案の固有の原則として、「道徳教育」、皇族中心主義、国旗および国歌への尊敬等の保守的価値観の普及に強くコミットしてきた。[12]

In December 2014, the Specifically Designated Secrets Protection Law was enacted, allowing the government to designate by fiat any information related to national defense, diplomacy, anti-terrorism and anti-espionage as state secrets.[13] Its vagueness of scope and lack of oversight has been criticized on the grounds that it threatens criminal prosecution of bureaucrats who might leak designated secrets and the journalists who might report them.[14] Incentives for the passage of the SDS law, which in effect created the framework to enable the mutual exchange of classified information with the United States through the National Security Council,[15] are manifold. Geopolitical motives involve Japan’s territorial disputes with Russia and China over the ownership of the Southern Kuril islands and the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Other considerations include the political aftermath of the disaster unfolding at Fukushima Daiichi, as well as potential uprisings in response to defaulting on sovereign debt obligations and collapsing of public pension funds,[16] scenarios that can easily disrupt the ‘public interest and public order’.
2014年12月、特定機密の保護に関する法律が施行され、政府は、国家安全保障、外交、対テロリズム、国家機密に関するスパイ防止に関するあらゆる情報を、専断により指定できるようになった。[13] その範囲の曖昧さと監督の欠如は、指定された機密をリークした官僚およびそれを報道したジャーナリストを刑事訴追される恐れがあるとして批判されている。[14] 特定機密法は、国家安全保障会議を通じて米国と指定情報を交換することを可能とする枠組みを組成するものであり[15]、その成立の誘因は多様である。地政学的な動機は、南千島列島や釣魚島/尖閣諸島を巡るロシア、中国との領土紛争問題である。他に考慮すべき事項としては、福島第一原子力発電所の次々と明らかになる悲劇の政治的影響、財政赤字や公的年金基金の破綻への高まる危機対応の可能性[16]、「公共の利益と公共の秩序」が容易く破壊されるシナリオ等がある。

In March 2016, the Peace Security Law was enacted, enabling the SDF to exercise the right to ‘collective self-defense’,[17] or the use of military force to defend another state from an armed attack, marking another expansion of the U.S.-Japan security partnership. In the Diet deliberations of August 2015, lawmaker Taro Yamamoto presented the contents of the third Armitage-Nye report issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank known to be heavily funded by the Japanese government and nuclear industry companies.[18] The contents of the national security legislation were found to be identical to the suggestions in the report, some of which have included the restart of nuclear power plants, participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, repeal of the Three Principles on Arms Exports, relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and protection of national secrets under the U.S.-Japan security treaty.[19]
2016年3月、平和安全法制が施行され、自衛隊が「集団的自衛権」[17]を行使しできる、すなわち、軍事的攻撃に対して他国を防衛するために軍事力を行使できるようになった。これにより、米日安全保障パートナーシップに更なる拡大をもたらした。2015年8月の国会審議において、山本太郎参議院議員は、ワシントンDCにあるシンクタンクで、日本政府および原子力関連企業が多くの基金を提供していることで知られる戦略国際問題研究所(CSIS)が発行した第3次アーミテージ=ナイ報告の内容を示した。[18] 安全保障法の内容は、原発再稼働、TPP交渉への参加、武器輸出三原則の修正、普天間基地の移設および日米安全保障条約にもとづく国家機密の保護など、この報告書で示唆されているものとそっくりであることが判明した。[19]

In line with these deliberations, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani specified that under the security bills, the Self-Defense Forces would be allowed to transport, repair and store nuclear weapons for foreign or multinational forces.[20] More recently, the Abe Cabinet has issued statements on two separate accounts explaining that nuclear weapons are actually permitted under the Constitution, on the basis of an interpretation that Article 9 does not ban the country from possessing armed forces that are “the minimum necessary for self-defense.”[21] History shows how successive administrations of the Liberal Democratic Party have suggested that Japan should consider developing its own nuclear weapons program. On this topic, Australian historian Gavan McCormack chronicles Japan’s supposed ‘non-nuclear’ status:
国会審議において、中谷巌・防衛大臣は、安全法制のもと、自衛隊は外国軍もしくは多国籍軍のために核兵器の輸送、修理修繕を行うことができると明らかにした。[20] さらに最近では、安倍内閣は2つの声明を出し、9条では「最低限の防衛の必要性」を満たす戦力の保持を禁じていないことを根拠に、核兵器は現在の憲法で認められていることを説明した。[21] 歴史が示すところによれば、歴代の自由民主党政権は、自前の核兵器の保有を検討してきた。この点について、オーストラリアの歴史学者、ギャバン・マコーマックは、日本のいわゆる「非核」の状況を、次のように記している:
“Prime Minister Kishi, in 1957, is known to have favoured nuclear weapons. In 1961, Prime Minister Ikeda told US Secretary of State Dean Rusk that there were proponents of nuclear weapons in his cabinet; and his successor, Sato Eisaku, told Ambassador Reischauer in December 1964 (two months after the first Chinese nuclear test) that ‘it stands to reason that, if others have nuclear weapons, we should have them too’. US anxiety led to the specific agreement the following year on Japan’s inclusion within the US ‘umbrella’. Prime Ministers Ohira (in 1979) and Nakasone (in 1984) both subsequently stated that acquiring nuclear weapons would not be prohibited by Japan’s Peace constitution—provided they were used for defence, not offence. In the late 1990s, and with North Korea clearly in mind, the chief of the Defence Agency, Norota Hosei, announced that in certain circumstances Japan enjoyed the right of ‘pre-emptive attack’. The Defence Agency’s parliamentary vice minister, Nishimura Shingo, then carried this line of argument even further by putting the case for Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons.”[22] 
The cornerstone of Japan’s ‘exclusively defense-oriented policy’ is unequivocally American nuclear warheads. The nuclear basis for the bilateral security arrangement has been outlined by the Ministry of Defense in the National Defense Program Guidelines[23] and The Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation,[24] each of which reaffirm Japan’s commitments to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles of non-possession, non-production and non-introduction of nuclear weapons; and its continued reliance on the U.S. extended nuclear deterrent.

The coherence to the notion that Japan can exist as a ‘non-nuclear’ state entitled to enrichment and reprocessing activities is supported by its nuclear victim status, its compliance to the three conditions of non-proliferation, disarmament and ‘peaceful’ use of nuclear technology prescribed under the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and its special relationship with the United States. While non-signatory states such as India, Israel and Pakistan are given preferential treatment that further legitimizes their nuclear power status, other nuclear states such as Iran and North Korea are routinely denounced for their insistence on the right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy without discrimination. Japan stands to benefit from its passiveness in the areas of non-proliferation and disarmament; and its simultaneous openness in exporting civilian nuclear technologies to developing countries.[25]

Government officials seem unconcerned with the presence of U.S. military bases, including the storage of American nuclear warheads in Okinawa and on American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with free access to Japanese ports, a legacy that can be traced back to the reversion agreement reached between then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and President Richard Nixon.[26] Nor would they appear to have any qualms about Japan’s bid for nuclear superpower status as it pursues the elusive goal of closing the nuclear fuel cycle via fast breeder reactors such as Monju, together with the use of plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel in conventional light-water reactors. As the domestic stockpile containing forty-eight tons of weapons-usable plutonium accumulates at the Rokkasho reprocessing facility, slated for commercial operation in 2018,[27] heightened regional tensions and widened rifts between Japan and its neighbors can be expected.
日本政府の役人は、米軍基地の存在および沖縄に核弾頭を保管していること、さらに、佐藤栄作首相とリチャード・ニクソン大統領の(沖縄)返還合意に遡る遺産である核爆弾を持つ飛行機の日本の空港への自由な立ち寄りについて、無頓着であるように見える。[26] さらに彼らは、高速増殖炉もんじゅにより核燃料サイクルを完成させ、日本で標準的な軽水炉でプルトニウム・ウラニウム混合酸化物燃料を使用することにより、核大国の地位を得ようとすることについて、なんの衒いも持っていないように見える。六ケ所再生処理工場に蓄積された46トンに上る核兵器に転用可能なプルトニウムを含む国内備蓄を、2018年に商用利用しようと計画しているが[27]、このことは、地域的緊張を高め、日本と近隣諸国との亀裂を広げる恐れがある。

Because the foundation of its defense guidelines rests on American nuclear warheads, Japan has been unaffected by diplomatic efforts being made to establish a Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ).[28] Constitutional revision could therefore be seen as another step forward to integrate nuclear command and control operations with America’s containment policies, particularly in relation to China and North Korea; but it could also be seen as an extension of Japan’s ‘coping strategy’ that focuses on minimizing risks when responding to a shifting international order.[29] Former U.S. negotiator Morton H. Halperin explores this complexity in detail:
米国の核弾頭にその防衛ガイドラインの基礎を置いているため、日本は、「北東アジア非核兵器地帯」(NEA-NWFZ)の成立の政治的努力に影響されてこなかった。[28] 憲法改正は、従って、米国の、特に中国と北朝鮮に関する封じ込め政策とともに、統合的な核の指揮統制作戦に歩を進めることにつながる可能性がある。一方で、国際秩序への移行に対応する際に、リスクを最小化しようとする日本の「対処戦略」を拡大するかも知れない。[29] 元米国交渉官であるモートン・ハルペリンは、この複雑性を次のように詳述している:
“Throughout the postwar period, Japanese leaders have quietly debated the question of whether Japan should develop an independent nuclear capability while some Japanese have doubted the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, most Japanese who leaned toward advocating a Japanese nuclear capability took this position because they believed such a capability would permit Japan to end the security relation with the United States and to assert an independent role in the world Japan saw no choice but to sign onto the NPT and later to accept making it permanent, while quietly maintaining its options so that it could respond if the international and domestic situation made it possible for Japan to acquire a nuclear capability.”[30]
Although the closed, plutonium-based nuclear fuel cycle has failed to deliver the nation’s energy ‘needs’, it would appear to have conferred Japan the status of a de facto nuclear-weapon state. Positioned at the center of the nation’s energy and security matrix, Japan’s plutonium program has widely been regarded by public officials as a “tacit nuclear deterrent” with diplomatic functions.[31] It is unclear whether Japan intends to use its plutonium stockpiles for manufacturing its own nuclear weapons, but there should be no misunderstanding of the intentions that underlie its compliance to the non-proliferation regime.
閉じたプルトニウム核燃料サイクルが日本にとって必要なエネルギーを供給することができなくとも、それにより日本が「事実上の」核保有国としてのステイタスを授与してきた。エネルギーと安全保障のマトリクスの中心に位置づけられてきた日本のプルトニウム計画は、公務員にとっては外交機能とともに「暗黙の核抑止力」と、広くみなされてきた。[31] 日本が本当にプルトニウム備蓄を使って核兵器を開発する意図があるかどうかは定かではないが、核不拡散体制を遵守する背景にはそうした意図があることは間違いがない。

Organizing for social change

Following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, civil society witnessed a resurgence of social movements that presented another opportunity to not only reconsider nuclear power as a source of energy and reflect on the global contamination from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, but to also revisit the premises of the U.S.-Japan military partnership that is predicated on both. The incident revealed not only the administrative dysfunctions spanning local and central levels of governance; it also unveiled the bureaucratic machinations and the transnational regimes involved in influencing public opinion and policy decisions.[32]

Members of post-3/11 Japanese society certainly have expressed a stronger desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons, the phase-out of nuclear power and the transition toward renewable energy within a framework of accountability and sustainability; but there is still good reason to delineate how social progress in Japan has been hampered by tendencies toward prefigurative modes of action that eschew engagement with existing power structures.[33]

In the wake of the triple disaster, private individuals turned to social media, which offered alternatives for information otherwise unavailable. It served as a platform for planning and mobilization, helping to normalize dissident practices and negotiate commonalities of interest. But over time, social media underwent a transformation from a cultural apparatus for informative opinion into the modus operandi for collective action. David Slater provides an account for this “double-edged sword of social media” observed in post-3/11 Japan:
三重の災害の発生の最中、個人は、他の媒体では提供不可能な情報を提供するものとしてのソーシャル・メディアに目を向けた。ソーシャル・メディアは計画と動員のプラットフォームとなり、反体制派の活動を正常化し、共通の利益の交渉の助けとなった。しかし時がたつにつれて、ソーシャル・メディアは参考となる意見を提供する文化的ツールから、集団行動の手口(modus operandi)へと変容を遂げた。デビッド・スレイターは、3.11後の日本を観察し、この「ソーシャル・メディアの諸刃の剣」について説明を加えた:
“The dissipation of organized movements and even more ad hoc political participation are linked to the nature of social media… Social media offered unaffiliated and non-institutionalized individuals and groups the possibility to mobilize and work together, even to create a common cause, bypassing much of the painstaking organizational work characteristic of traditional social movements. The framing of participation as self-consciously diverse and open might have broken down institutional boundaries that once kept non-affiliated out, but the problem remains: how to keep these same supporters connected, committed and active over an extended period of time.”[34]『組織的な運動が焼失し、アドホックの政治参加が増加したことは、ソーシャル・メディアの特性によるものだ。ソーシャル・メディアは、伝統的な社会運動には付き物である骨が折れる組織化運動のほとんどを回避することで、無党派で組織化されていない個人やグループが、結集し協働し、さらには共通の目的(大義)を持つことを可能にする。多様でオープンな参加者の構成は、部外者を阻害する組織的な結合を破壊するが、課題は残っている。すなわち、同じ支持者を、長期にわたり繋げ、コミットを取り付け、活動を継続させるかである。』[34]
In contrast to their classical counterparts that are vertically integrated, social media movements are structured by horizontal networks that cannot be arbitrated. Decisions are typically made through consensus and commitments that bind people to the movement are relatively loose. While this prefigurative politics provides flexibility and mobility, the absence of centralized authority and administrative hierarchy create difficulties in reaching agreements on direction and tactics to be pursued.[35] Accordingly, the lack of professional management and strategic calculus pose serious challenges to the development of leadership and stewardship needed to organize fragmented social bases into an alternative hegemony with the power to steer political outcomes.[36]
垂直的に結合している古典的なカウンターパート(伝統的なメディア)と対照的に、ソーシャル・メディア活動はお互いに調停されない水平的なネットワークにより構成されている。意思決定は典型的にコンセンサスにより為され、人々をその運動につながらせているコミットメントは比較的弱い。この若者志向型社会の政策は柔軟性と流動性をもたらす一方、中央の権力や管理階層の欠如は、目指すべき方向性や戦術に関する合意に達することを困難にしている。[35] 従って、専門的マネジメントと戦術的計算の欠如は、バラバラの社会的背景を、政治的な成果を上げる力とともに代替的なヘゲモニーに変えるリーダーシップとスチュワードシップの育成を困難にしている。[36]

By the same measure, it remains to be seen whether a framework for social and political vision that truly confronts entrenched norms and practices will be adopted in the current peace movement. There have been no demands for a redistribution of income and wealth that fundamentally challenges the foundation of Japanese corporate capitalism in its neoliberal ethos; or the LDP-dominated political establishment with its neoconservative conceptions of citizenship and the common good.[37] Neither has there been a meaningful attempt to make the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, or pursue denuclearization with respect to global imbalances in economic and military power; nor has there been a clear expression of solidarity for indigenous peoples in their struggle for self-determination and resistance to American imperialism.[38] Unless these facets of reality can be debated and contested, there is little reason to expect more than incremental progress in the abolition of war.
同様の基準で、凝り固まった規範と行動に直面する社会的・政治的なビジョンの枠組みが、現在の平和活動に受け入れられるかどうかが今後の課題である。ネオリベラリズム精神、あるいは、自民党が主流である市民主義や公益のネオコンサバティズムな概念における日本の会社資本主義の基礎に対して根本的に挑戦する所得と富の再配分に対する要求はない。[37] さらに、原子力と核兵器とを関連して考える意味のある試みや、世界の経済的・軍事的な不均衡に関連して脱原子力を追求する動きも、原住民族の自己決定への取り組みやアメリカ帝国主義への抵抗に関する団結への明確な指示表明もない。[38] これらの現実の局面が論議され争点となる可能性がある限りは、戦争廃止に向けた漸進的な進捗以上のものを期待することは殆どできない。


Japan is undergoing a process of realignment amid escalating financial and ecological crises. There is a growing trend epitomized by concentrated political power, economy-first mentalities, reinforcement of military integration and consolidation of national identities. Constitutional revision, alongside ideological formulations of public policy, reflects a number of pernicious changes oriented away from providing for the civil liberties of citizens and toward imposing duties on people as national subjects. These developments are unfolding largely in relation to the renewed focus on Russia and China as part of America’s rebalancing strategy in the Asia-Pacific and are paralleled by strategic counterweights to its trade agreements, military overtures and related hegemonic ambitions.[39]

The challenge faced by organizers in Japan is the need to initiate and sustain connections across disparate and factionalized movements that relate singular issues to broader systemic and structural problems of militarism, inequality and environmental degradation at home and abroad. Making democracy function in an atmosphere of dispossession, dogmatism and duplicity requires the participation of a capable and disciplined citizenry with the power to assert its shared interests. It demands a sense of civic agency and the practice of a radical politics that articulates vision, organizes community and builds power.[40] Such endeavors must begin with an understanding for the functions and relations of power that collectively shape interpersonal and institutional life.
日本のオーガナイザーが直面している課題は、一つの問題を、国内外の軍事、不均衡、環境劣化といったより広範なシステマチックで構造的な問題に関連付ける異質で異なる派閥の動きを創発し、持続させる必要があることである。非所有の雰囲気の中で、民主主義的な機能を発揮するためには、教条主義と二枚舌は、共有する利益を主張する権力を持った、能力を持ち規律ある市民の参加を必要とする。市民の主体性の感覚と、ビジョンとコミュニティを組織化し権力を構築する革命的な政策を必要とする。[40] そのような試みは、集合的に個人間および組織間の生活を形成する力の機能と関係についての理解から始めなければならない。

[1] “Nihon-Koku Kenpō,” National Diet Library, May 3, 2003.
[2] Michael Klare, “The Coming of Cold War 2.0,” TomDispatch, June 30, 2015.
[3] Glenn D. Hook and Gavan McCormack, Japan’s Contested Constitution: Documents and Analysis (London: Routledge, 2004).
[4] “LDP announces a new draft Constitution for Japan,” The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, May 7, 2012.
[7] Fumika Sato, “A Camouflaged Military: Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and Globalized Gender Mainstreaming,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, August 28, 2012.
[8] Lawrence Repeta, “Japan’s Democracy at Risk – The LDP’s Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, July 14, 2013.
[9] “Nihon koku kenpō kaisei sōan,” The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, April 27, 2012.
[10] “Basic Act on Education,” Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, December 22, 2006.
[11] David McNeill and Adam Lebowitz, “Hammering Down the Educational Nail: Abe Revises the Fundamental Law of Education,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, July 3, 2007.
[12] Norihiro Kato, “Tea Party Politics in Japan: Japan’s Rising Nationalism,” The New York Times, September 12, 2014.
[13] “Tokutei Himitsu no Hogo ni kansuru Hōritsu,” Cabinet Secretariat, December 13, 2013.
[14] Mina Pollmann, “Japan’s Troubling State Secrets Law Takes Effect,” The Diplomat, December 18, 2014.
[15] Lawrence Repeta, “A New State Secrecy Law for Japan?”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, October 21, 2013.
[16] “Paul Krugman: Meeting with Japanese officials,” The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, March 22, 2016.
[17] “Heiwa Anzen Hōsei,” Cabinet Secretariat, September 30, 2015.
[19] Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye, “The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Anchoring Stability in Asia,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 2012.
[20] Reiji Yoshida, “Japan defense chief says SDF could deal with nukes under security bills,” The Japan Times, August 5, 2015.
[21] “Abe Cabinet says Article 9 does not ban possessing, using N-weapons,” The Asahi Shimbun, April 2, 2016.
[22] Gavan McCormack, “Japan as a Nuclear State,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, August 1, 2007.
[23] “National Defense Program Guidelines,” Ministry of Defense, December 17, 2013.
[24] “The Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation,” Ministry of Defense, April 27, 2015.
[25] P. K. Sundaram, The Emerging Japan-India Relationship: Nuclear Anachronism, Militarism and Growth Fetish, The Asia-Pacific Journal, June 2, 2013.
[26] Matsumoto Tsuyoshi, “Revealing “Secret U.S.-Japan Nuclear Understandings”: A solemn obligation of Japan’s new government,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, December 14, 2009.
[27] Shaun Bernie and Frank Barnaby, “Nuclear Proliferation in Plain Sight: Japan’s Plutonium Fuel Cycle–A Technical and Economic Failure But a Strategic Success,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, March 1, 2016.
[28] Hiromichi Umebayashi, A Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone with a Three-plus-Three Arrangement, The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development, March 13, 2012.
[30] Morton H. Halperin, “The Nuclear Dimension of the U.S.-Japan Alliance,” The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development, December 21, 2000.
[31] Chester Dawson, “In Japan, Provocative Case for Staying Nuclear,” The Wall Street Journal, October 28, 2011.
[32] Jeff Kingston, “Japan’s Nuclear Village,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, September 9, 2012.
[33] Jonathan M. Smucker, “Can Prefigurative Politics Replace Political Strategy?”, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, October 7, 2014.
[34] David Slater, Nishimura Keiko and Love Kindstrand, “Social Media, Information and Political Activism in Japan’s 3.11 Crisis,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, June 7, 2012.
[35] Malcolm Gladwell, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” The New Yorker, October 4, 2010.
[36] Mike Miller, “Alinsky for the Left: The Politics of Community Organizing,” Dissent Magazine, Winter 2010.
[37] Robin O’day, “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, September 14, 2015.
[39] Jon Letman, “The U.S. Is Militarizing the Pacific — and Not Taking Questions,” Foreign Policy In Focus, March 30, 2016.
[40] C. Douglas Lummis, Radical Democracy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).