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 PAST ISSUES
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By H. ROSS KAWAMURA

WINNER OR LOSER?
JAPAN’S LEADERS MUST SHED THEIR DEFEATISM AND ACT MORE LIKE REAGAN AND THATCHER

H. Ross Kawamura is an advocacy activist of the New Global Initiatives with America (www.newglobal-america.org).

THE WORLD STANDS AT A CROSSROADS THESE days, and Japan’s position in the arena of global security needs to be reconsidered. The country must start acting like a winner of the Cold War, not a loser of World War II. Regrettably, many people in Japan and overseas are traumatized by the experience of the Second World War, which makes a considerable difference to the country’s reputation. As a winner of the Cold War, Japan has earned the right to fight for global freedom and to manage the world as one of the most reliable allies of the United States. Japan has defeated authoritarian communists alongside Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. However, Japanese leaders, including politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, academics, journalists, and civil activists, act as if the country is a loser. This has seriously negative consequences.

Throughout the postwar era, Japan had to behave like a loser of World War II. While Japanese leaders have been apologizing for their colonial rule and the war damage they inflicted on their Asian neighbors, they have been hesitant to take a leading role in the struggle for global peace and stability. This is a shameful reality for a key member of the Western alliance. People who have been traumatized by the bitter outcome of the war use it to excuse Japan’s insufficient performance on the world stage. Such an attitude is too apologetic, too isolationist, too free-riding, and too backward-looking. I hope Japanese military presence in Iraq will be the first step toward changing this attitude.

Most seriously, a foreign policy based on negative thinking deters Japanese leadership in global affairs as a special partner to the US. In view of the rise of China as a global power, such an attitude endangers Japan’s position as a leader in its own backyard. The United States, as a result, may consider a strategic deal with China on issues such as global terrorism without consulting Japan. Enemies like North Korea will continue to treat Japan with contempt. They send spies and continue to deceive Japanese delegates in negotiations. Only left-wingers, who impose this negative thinking on the public, would be overjoyed to see these negative effects.

Winner Japan is completely different from this sort of miserable Japan. It can boast of its mission for global freedom triumphantly, like Reagan and Thatcher did, because it has stood firm against communists and terrorists with its allies. As a Cold War winner, Japan must no longer feel obligated to apologize for its criminal behavior in the past.

Viewing itself as a winner, Japan will be able to pursue its own version of a neo-conservative, or liberal imperialist, foreign policy. The country can take bold steps on behalf of global public interest and national security. The pacifist constitution, a serious constraint to such courageous endeavor, does not apply to contemporary international realities. Terrorists roam all over the world. China and North Korea pose a serious military threat to Japan. Russia still keeps the Northern Islands. Even South Korea, a key Western ally in Asia, is suspected of having developed a nuclear weapon. Therefore, Japan should act without regard to this lame-duck legal limit. Egg-headed legalists might not understand the priority, but people know that global and national security is much more important than such a useless law.

Just a few steps toward a bold approach would enable Japan to act with pride, dignity, and confidence to resolve global challenges. Winner Japan would be very forward-looking and no longer traumatized by its war experience of 60 to 70 years ago.

Understanding Japan as a winner of the Cold War instead of a loser of World War II will yield positive results and lead the country down a new diplomatic path. It will undoubtedly help reinforce Japan’s special relationship with the United States, and expand Japan’s global influence. It is very advantageous for Japan to win the rivalry for regional leadership against China and Russia, and a new attitude will result in improved relations with Japan’s Asian neighbors as well. Many of these countries were able to defeat authoritarian communism in the Cold War with the help of their Western allies and Japan. Therefore, Japan doesn’t need to continue to apologize for its past colonial rule. Instead, as America’s most reliable partner, Japan should lead its Asian friends in the fight for global freedom.

Standing at a crossroads, Japanese people must change their negative thinking and take a brave step toward the future. With a positive outlook, the country will strengthen its special relationship with America to manage the world, and confront evil in a resolute manner.

New Global America welcomes responses to this article: info@newglobal-america.org M

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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