The Guardian 16 February, 2005

Japanese government
pushes for military forces overseas

Japan's ruling parties are rushing to prepare Japanese troops for military operations overseas which is forbidden under the country's constitution that limits them to the direct defence of Japan.

The push is being driven by US and Japanese big business interests and expansionist aims, under the US-Japan military alliance is calling for Article 9 of the peace Constitution to be revised. This big business organisation urges "collective defence" and says that "rewriting the constitution is not an objective but a means by which the future of Japan should be forged in accordance with the principles and aims set by the state". The aim being to send its Self Defence Forces on overseas missions.

The Japanese Communist Party has warned that the government's move to turn the Self Defence forces into fully-fledged armed forces that can be deployed overseas and take part in US wars on a global scale will betray Japan's "no war" pledge and will eventually lead to Japan losing its position as a non-belligerent member of Asia.

People opposed

However, a recent survey by a Japanese radio broadcasting company which favours the use of Japanese troops overseas found that 50 percent of the people favour the maintenance of Japan's Constitution in its "no war" form.

The Japanese government rushed to use the Indian Ocean tsunami to send Japanese troops overseas to help those in need of aid. They hope that this will get the Japanese people used to having their military forces involved in overseas missions and lessen opposition to a re-write of the Constitution.

No less that 1600 military personnel were sent on this tsunami aid mission. The government also hopes this will help Japan become a member of the UN Security Council.

Commenting on this situation the newspaper of the Socialist Party of Japan says: "Humanitarian assistance is necessary. But why must military forces get involved? Why won't the government organise civilian rescue teams? This is a fundamental question. For the Defence Agency, there is no difference between Iraq and Sumatra. It takes advantage of the dispatch of troops as a fait accompli to ratchet up the role of the Self Defence Forces abroad". (Japan has a military force in Iraq helping the US out of the quagmire but it was also sent under the flag of "humanitarian assistance".

However, the stay of Japanese troops in the Pacific may be short-lived as the Indonesian government has indicated that it would like all foreign military forces to leave within three months. There are long memories in many Asian countries of the butcher role played by Japanese military forces in WW2 and the attempt by Japan to colonise all other Asian countries.

Back to index page