Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Being Right

In case you doubted me about Ambassador Murata's likely reasons to expose a long-standing secret agreement between the U.S. and Japan, you might want to read the commentary below. As I noted in a previous post, assuring doubt about the U.S. commitment to Japan was his goal.

His friend and co-author of Between Friends, Hisahiko Okazaki, comes to his defense and clarifies what Murata hoped to achieve. It appears that "intellectual integrity" is the new linguist weapon of Japan's conservative nationalists. No more is it "historical truth." Their cause is now about their right to their opinions, no matter how illegal, hurtful, or wrong.

Again, this is a very dangerous tack by those who want to use any means to repeal Article 9 and advance Japan's rearmament. Whether it is pushing the United States on Japanese abductees of the North Koreans or the right to purchase F-22s, these conservatives hope to create a situation of distrust and discord. Like Holocaust deniers, they measure their success by the doubt they instill. Amb Okazaki. It should be noted, Okazaki considers himself a friend of the U.S.; and many believe him.

Later: Amb. Okazaki's essay further aligns itself with the supporters of former Air Self-Defense Force General Toshio Tamogami by welcoming possible prosecution of Amb. Murata for revealing a state secret. Okazaki notes: "If this case is brought to court, the substance of the secret – whether it is indeed a matter that needs to be kept confidential – will be examined. Blowing the whistle on anomalies in the bureaucracy does not violate the confidentiality obligation."

Tamogami and his friends were disappointed that the Diet did not debate his dismissal. They hoped for an airing of "historical truth." Amb. Murata's supporters appear to have hoped for a court case that would blow "the whistle on anomalies in the bureaucracy." In each case, these men were looking for legitimate public venues to air their views. And each seemed like a kamikaze mission where success is measured by its failure--an outrageous act of self-destruction in order sink a battleship or in these cases outrageous acts of career suicide to undermine the U.S.-Japan Alliance.

"Seiron" column: Do not let Murata's good intentions go to waste

SANKEI, July 7, 2009, page 7

By Hisahiko Okazaki, former ambassador to Thailand and Head of the Okazaki Institute

Disappointing follow-up response

When I read former Vice Foreign Minister Ryohei Murata's remarks on the nuclear issue in the newspaper, I was excited and hopeful that there would be new developments on this issue.

Although I have not contacted Mr. Murata, it is obvious that he sacrificed his own interest in making those remarks. Civil servants are obliged to maintain the secrecy of information they obtain in the course of performing their duties, and this rule applies even after retirement. Penalties of up to one year imprisonment can be imposed for violating this rule. It is evident that he chose to take the risk and tell the truth.

While such self-sacrifice is perhaps needed to change the government's rigid position over the years, I am disappointed that nothing has happened after the remarks were made.

Certainly the government is taking a "safe" position to make sure that nobody gets hurt. If the secret agreement [on the U.S. forces bringing nuclear weapons into Japan] does not really exist, there is no secret to keep, so no one has the obligation to keep the secret. Everything will be vanished into oblivion once again. However, such oblivion is only on the part of Japan. This does not hold water at all in the international community because the whole affair is like an ostrich hiding its head in the bush to flee from a hunter.

When I met the late Dr Edwin Reischauer (former U.S. ambassador to Japan), he was not indignant about "Foreign Minister Ohira's explicit promise" but was exasperated by the absurdity of the situation. Furthermore, the meeting [between Reischauer and Ohira in April 1963] has been confirmed by U.S. diplomatic documents subsequently. What I am worried about is that if Japan continues to carry on like this, it will be unable to engage in strategic dialogue with the United States to reinforce the bilateral alliance.

Statement does not breach the confidentiality obligation

In another article I wrote previously for this column, I mentioned that the Japan-U.S. strategic dialogue proposed by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage came to nothing while the U.S.-China strategic dialogue conducted under his successor Robert Zoellick was very successful. The U.S. side showed great enthusiasm for both dialogues, so it is not to blame for the failure of the Japan-U.S. talks.

Many people say that China is now more important for the U.S., so Japan will be abandoned. Such worries are completely unnecessary under the present situation as far as the U.S. side is concerned. Kurt Campbell has said that: "The best way to deal with China is to strengthen U.S. partnership with Japan as much as possible. That is the only option. Without such a foundation, nothing can be accomplished in Asia."

Here, what I am worried about is that Japan, due to its incompetence in strategic dialogue, may not be in a position to respond to the United States' good intentions.

In light of North Korea's nuclear armament, there have been noisy discussions about the effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, or the so-called extended deterrence, for Japan. A discussion on nuclear strategy is inevitable between allies when they discuss military strategy. As a matter of fact, NATO's Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) regularly discusses nuclear strategy.

Needless to say, it is also desirable to have a similar venue for consultation and planning between Japan and the U.S. But how can common strategy be discussed when Japan continues to deny even something it once promised?

Whether Mr. Murata's remarks constitute a violation of his confidentiality obligation may be a trivial matter to him, but I think this is not a violation. If this case is brought to court, the substance of the secret – whether it is indeed a matter that needs to be kept confidential – will be examined. Blowing the whistle on anomalies in the bureaucracy does not violate the confidentiality obligation. In this case, the secret agreement has already been disclosed in U.S. diplomatic documents, so unless there are very special or overriding reasons, it does not need to be kept confidential.

Policies that will not tie hands in the future

What I had hoped after the Murata remarks was that the government would stop its temporizing statements soon and revert to intellectual integrity.

With the subsequent advancement in military technology, the impact of this issue on reality has diminished. The issue here is intellectual integrity that forms the foundation of the relationship of trust and strategic dialogue between allies. If Japan engages in honest strategic dialogue now, the conclusion may well be that unless there is a major change in the situation, port calls by U.S. ships carrying nuclear weapons will be unnecessary.

I look forward to a change in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government's position in the future.

In the case of a Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration, I pray that it will break away from the inertia of the LDP era, acknowledge the existence of the international commitment between Ohira and Reischauer, and show its intellectual integrity in creating a new venue for Japan-U.S. strategic consultations.

Soon after the inauguration of the new administration, the mass media will probably try to reconfirm the government positions upheld until now, including the interpretation of the three non-nuclear principles. I hope the DPJ will only say that it will not be bound by the prejudices of the LDP era and will make a comprehensive review as the need arises and not commit itself prematurely. Unless it is able to do so, having a system of two major political parties will be meaningless; and if it succeeds, the DPJ's victory will have historical significance.

Having been liberated from past positions, I hope that people of intellectual integrity, regardless of whether they are rightist or leftist in ideology, will no longer say things like "Japan has the right to collective self-defense but is unable to exercise it."


  1. I agree with Mr. Okazaki in that Japan needs to look at its self for what it really is and conduct its foreign affairs with a firm sense of its identity. However, I believe that the conservatives are getting in the way of Japan living to its potential.

  2. This article http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20090718p2a00m0na003000c.html
    was in the Mainichi a few days ago. I wonder if you have any thoughts on it?

  3. I do but please bear with me. I am quite overwhelmed at the moment.


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