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Winds of War Blowing over Northern Pacific Islands?

Kurile Islands

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: Fol­low­ing on the heels of Shinzo Abe’s suc­cess­ful elec­tion cam­paign and return as Prime Min­is­ter, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant uptick in real or alleged mil­i­tary con­fronta­tions over dis­puted Islands in the North Pacific.

Con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has noted the pos­si­ble drift toward war between Japan and China over the unin­hib­ited and dis­puted Islands (Diayou to the Chi­nese, Senkaku to the Japan­ese). Pre­dictably (per­haps), Evans-Pritchard places much of the blame on Chi­nese nation­al­ism, a potent force in its own right.

Although he notes a 23% increase in Japan­ese appro­pri­a­tions for war­ships and air­craft, Evans-Pritchard appears to attribute a recent con­fronta­tion between Japan­ese and Chi­nese mil­i­tary forces over the islands to Chi­nese belligerence. 

Not taken into account is a recent [alleged] Russian-Japanese con­fronta­tion over the long-disputed Kurile Islands north of Japan–a focal point of con­tro­versy dat­ing back to the Sec­ond World War. In that inci­dent last Feb­ru­ary, the Japan­ese have charged that Russ­ian mil­i­tary air­craft pen­e­trated Japan­ese airspace. 

Rus­sia has denied the charge, as the Chi­nese have denied locking-on fire con­trol radar dur­ing their con­fronta­tion with Japan­ese forces. (We are in no posi­tion to make an objec­tive deter­mi­na­tion on the verac­ity of these con­flict­ing claims.)

Worth not­ing in this con­text is the fact that Shinzo Abe is the grand­son of another Jape­nese Prime Minister–Nobosuke Kishi.

In an ear­lier polit­i­cal incar­na­tion, Kishi was a Japan­ese war crim­i­nal, whose Lib­eral Demo­c­ra­tic Party became a repos­i­tory for unre­con­structed forces of Japan­ese fas­cism. (Abe is also from the LDP.)

In addi­tion to his laud­able efforts at imple­ment­ing “stim­u­lus” eco­nom­ics, Abe has also struck a reac­tionary chord, endors­ing revi­sion­ist his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal analy­sis of Japan’s involve­ment in World War II, as well as imple­ment­ing height­ened militarism/nationalism.

One is com­pelled to con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that it is height­ened Japan­ese mil­i­tarism and nation­al­ism that is stir­ring the “Pacific pot,” at the moment.

With Japan hav­ing endured a “lost decade” eco­nom­i­cally and the Japan­ese peo­ple still reel­ing from the Fukushima dis­as­ter, Abe’s revisionism/nationalism/militarism may be aimed at chan­nel­ing social dis­sat­is­fac­tion into an expan­sion­ist, chau­vin­is­tic agenda.

It is worth not­ing that the last inci­dent between the Rus­sians and Japan­ese over the Kurile Islands took place in 2008, shortly after Abe was elected to an ear­lier term as Prime Minister.

Shortly after Abe’s reelec­tion, there was another [alleged] inci­dent with Rus­sia over the Kuriles. 

The tim­ing of the Russian/Japanese con­fronta­tions sug­gests the pos­si­bil­ity that the grow­ing hos­til­i­ties in that part of the world may well be due to increased Japan­ese militarism/nationalism.

For con­ve­nience, we present (below) part of the descrip­tion for FTR #581. Note some of the sim­i­lar­i­ties with the sit­u­a­tion today–increased North Korean nuclear bel­liger­ence among them. 

In eval­u­at­ing the depress­ing devel­op­ments in the Pacific, one should bear in mind the deep pol­i­tics under­ly­ing the evo­lu­tion of Japan­ese fas­cism.

At the foun­da­tion of that analy­sis, we find maneu­ver­ing by pow­er­ful, transna­tional cor­po­rate forces, espe­cially those asso­ci­ated with U.S.-based transna­tion­als.

Of fun­da­men­tal impor­tance in under­stand­ing these dynam­ics are the works of Ster­ling and Peggy Sea­grave, their opus Gold War­riors, in particular.

IF the con­fronta­tions in the North Pacific esca­late into war, it will not be good for this country.

“The Dan­ger­ous Drift towards World War in Asia” by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard; The Tele­graph [UK]; 3/25/20‘13.

EXCERPT: . . . . Japan’s national ide­ol­ogy is paci­fist, and this is writ­ten into Arti­cle 9 of its con­sti­tu­tion, which states that “the Japan­ese peo­ple for­ever renounce war as a sov­er­eign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of set­tling inter­na­tional disputes.”

This peace com­plex adds a strange twist to events. It inhibits Japan as a mus­cu­lar China presses its claim on the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands — a clus­ter of unin­hab­ited rocks near Tai­wan — and as Chi­nese war­ships push deep into Japan­ese waters.

Yet there is no doubt that Japan will fight.

“We sim­ply can­not tol­er­ate any chal­lenge now, or in the future. No nation should under­es­ti­mate the firm­ness of our resolve,” said Shinzo Abe, the hawk­ish pre­mier bent on national revival.

After talk­ing to Japan­ese offi­cials in Tokyo over the last few days, I have the strong impres­sion not only that they are ready to fight, but also that they expect to win, and fur­ther­more that con­flict may come at any moment.

“They are send­ing ships and even air­craft into our ter­ri­tory every day. It is intense provo­ca­tion. We’re mak­ing every effort not to be pro­voked but they are using fire-control radar. This is one step away from con­flict and we are very wor­ried,” said a top gov­ern­ment official.

Noth­ing has changed since out­go­ing US Defence Sec­re­tary Leon Panetta said China and Japan were drift­ing towards war, except for the Japan­ese defence bud­get. Spend­ing on war­ships and air­craft will jump by 23% this year.

Inter­nal Japan­ese doc­u­ments say the sit­u­a­tion has become “extremely dan­ger­ous” since the Chi­nese locked their weapons-guiding fire-control radar on a Japan­ese heli­copter and then a destroyer in Jan­u­ary, a dra­matic esca­la­tion. The claim is denied by Beijing.

It was the risk of such inci­dents spin­ning out of con­trol dur­ing the Cold War that led to the cre­ation of the red-telephone “Hot­line” between the US and the Soviet Union. No such hot­line exists between Tokyo and Beijing.

Over at the revamped Defence Min­istry — no longer the meek Self-Defence Force — a top mil­i­tary plan­ner showed me maps detail­ing the move­ment of Chi­nese DDG war­ships and Yuan-class sub­marines through Japan­ese waters. The pres­sure point is Oki­nawa, a fresh source of con­tro­versy as Chi­nese aca­d­e­mics start lay­ing claim to that island as well. “If they can build a radar site in the Senkakus, it would be major strate­gic asset,” he said. . . .

“Japan Scram­bles Fight­ers after Russ­ian Jets Approach Island”; CNN; 2/7/2013.

EXCERPT: Japan’s mil­i­tary scram­bled fight­ers Thurs­day after two Russ­ian SU-27 jets entered Japan­ese air­space off Rishiri Island near the tip of Japan’s north­ern­most Hokkaido Island, accord­ing to the country’s Defense Ministry.

The Russ­ian jets left Japan­ese air­space with­out inci­dent after a lit­tle more than a minute, the min­istry said.
The inci­dent occurred near ter­ri­tory dis­puted by Japan and Rus­sia since the end of World War II.

Japan­ese offi­cials lodged an offi­cial protest with Rus­sia over the inci­dent, Japan’s Kyodo news ser­vice reported. . . .

For The Record #581: Update on Japan­ese Fascism

High­light­ing recent trends toward reviv­ing the ultra-nationalism and his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism of Japan’s fas­cist past, this pro­gram sets forth the polit­i­cal agenda being pushed by Shinzo Abe, the newly elected Prime Min­is­ter. The grand­son of Japan­ese War Crim­i­nal Nobo­suke Kishi, Abe has suc­ceeded his grand­fa­ther as head of the LDP—itself a vehi­cle for the per­pet­u­a­tion of Japan’s World War II polit­i­cal and eco­nomic power structure.

With the Japan­ese peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing height­ened stress and alien­ation because of eco­nomic pres­sures, the pos­si­bil­ity of that social unrest express­ing itself as mil­i­taris­tic nation­al­ism and fas­cism is one pos­si­ble result of the right-wing agenda being imple­mented by Abe.

In addi­tion to autho­riz­ing a mil­i­tary buildup and mov­ing to ease restric­tions on the Japan­ese mil­i­tary, Abe has imple­mented a school cur­ricu­lum that insti­tu­tion­al­izes right-wing (“patri­otic”) pro­pa­ganda as a manda­tory ele­ment of Japan­ese pub­lic edu­ca­tion. It may well be that the recent North Korean atomic test will aid Abe’s agenda and push for rearmament.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The view of the Japan­ese right-wing that Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt was respon­si­ble for World War II; Nobo­suke Kishi’s activ­i­ties in wartime Japan, includ­ing his sign­ing of Japan’s dec­la­ra­tion of war against the United States; the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church of Sun Myung Moon’s finan­cial aid to North Korea; review of the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church’s role as an exten­sion of the Japan­ese patri­otic soci­eties that brought fas­cism to Japan in the 1930’s; the pos­si­bil­ity that Moon’s aid to North Korea may have been intended to aid that country’s nuclear buildup, thus pro­vid­ing an excuse for Japan­ese rearmament.



2 comments for “Winds of War Blowing over Northern Pacific Islands?”

  1. I’d be a lot more con­cerned about a sec­ond Great Depres­sion at this point.....

    Posted by Steven L. | March 25, 2013, 9:20 am
  2. As they say, the best defense is a good offense, although it seems like the best defense would be world peace. Oh well:

    Exclu­sive: Japan, U.S. dis­cussing offen­sive mil­i­tary capa­bil­ity for Tokyo — Japan officials

    By Nobuhiro Kubo

    TOKYO Wed Sep 10, 2014 4:40am EDT

    (Reuters) — Japan and the United States are explor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of Tokyo acquir­ing offen­sive weapons that would allow Japan to project power far beyond its bor­ders, Japan­ese offi­cials said, a move that would likely infu­ri­ate China.

    While Japan’s inten­si­fy­ing rivalry with China dom­i­nates the head­lines, Tokyo’s focus would be the abil­ity to take out North Korean mis­sile bases, said three Japan­ese offi­cials involved in the process.

    They said Tokyo was hold­ing the infor­mal, pre­vi­ously undis­closed talks with Wash­ing­ton about capa­bil­i­ties that would mark an enhance­ment of mil­i­tary might for a coun­try that has not fired a shot in anger since its defeat in World War Two.

    The talks on what Japan regards as a “strike capa­bil­ity” are pre­lim­i­nary and do not cover spe­cific hard­ware at this stage, the Japan­ese offi­cials told Reuters.

    Defense experts say an offen­sive capa­bil­ity would require a change in Japan’s purely defen­sive mil­i­tary doc­trine, which could open the door to bil­lions of dol­lars worth of offen­sive mis­sile sys­tems and other hard­ware. These could take var­i­ous forms, such as submarine-fired cruise mis­siles sim­i­lar to the U.S. Tomahawk.

    U.S. offi­cials said there were no for­mal dis­cus­sions on the mat­ter but did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that infor­mal con­tacts on the issue had taken place. One U.S. offi­cial said Japan had approached Amer­i­can offi­cials infor­mally last year about the matter.

    Japan’s mil­i­tary is already robust but is con­strained by a paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion. The Self Defense Forces have dozens of naval sur­face ships, 16 sub­marines and three heli­copter car­ri­ers, with more ves­sels under con­struc­tion. Japan is also buy­ing 42 advanced F-35 stealth fighter jets.

    Reshap­ing the mil­i­tary into a more assertive force is a core pol­icy of Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe. He has reversed a decade of mil­i­tary spend­ing cuts, ended a ban on Japan­ese troops fight­ing abroad and eased curbs on arms exports.


    Tokyo had dropped a request to dis­cuss offen­sive capa­bil­i­ties dur­ing high-profile talks on revis­ing guide­lines for the U.S.-Japan secu­rity alliance which are expected to be fin­ished by year-end, the Japan­ese offi­cials said. Instead, the sen­si­tive issue was “being dis­cussed on a sep­a­rate track”, said one offi­cial with direct knowl­edge of the matter.

    But any deal with Wash­ing­ton is years away and the obsta­cles are sig­nif­i­cant – from the costs to the heav­ily indebted Japan­ese gov­ern­ment to con­cerns about ties with Asian neigh­bors such as China and sen­si­tiv­i­ties within the alliance itself.

    The Japan­ese offi­cials said their U.S. coun­ter­parts were cau­tious to the idea, partly because it could out­rage China, which accuses Abe of reviv­ing wartime militarism.

    The offi­cials declined to be iden­ti­fied because they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss the closed-door delib­er­a­tions. A Japan­ese Defense Min­istry spokesman said he could not com­ment on nego­ti­a­tions with Washington.

    Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said Asian coun­tries had a right to be con­cerned about any moves to strengthen Japan’s mil­i­tary con­sid­er­ing the country’s past and recent “mis­taken” words and actions about its history.

    “We again urge Japan to earnestly reflect on and learn the lessons of his­tory, respect the secu­rity con­cerns of coun­tries in the region and go down the path of peace­ful devel­op­ment,” Hua told a daily news brief­ing in Beijing.

    Japan would need U.S. back­ing for any shift in mil­i­tary doc­trine because it would change the frame­work of the alliance, often described as Amer­ica sup­ply­ing the “sword” of forward-based troops and nuclear deter­rence while Japan holds the defen­sive “shield”.

    Wash­ing­ton did not have a posi­tion on upgrad­ing Japan’s offen­sive capa­bil­i­ties, “in part because the Japan­ese have not devel­oped a spe­cific con­cept or come to us with a spe­cific request”, said another U.S. official.

    “We’re not there yet — and they’re not there yet,” the offi­cial said. “We’re pre­pared to have that con­ver­sa­tion when they’re ready.”


    North Korea lies less than 600 km (370 miles) from Japan at the clos­est point.

    Pyongyang, which reg­u­larly fires short-range rock­ets into the sea sep­a­rat­ing the Koreas from Japan, has improved its bal­lis­tic mis­sile capa­bil­i­ties and con­ducted three nuclear weapons tests, its most recent in Feb­ru­ary 2013.

    In April, North Korea said that in the event of war on the Korean Penin­sula, Japan would be “con­sumed in nuclear flames”.

    Part of Japan’s moti­va­tion for upgrad­ing its capa­bil­i­ties is a nag­ging sus­pi­cion that the United States, with some 28,000 troops in South Korea as well as 38,000 in Japan, might hes­i­tate to attack the North in a cri­sis, Japan­ese experts said.

    U.S. forces might hold off in some sit­u­a­tions, such as if South Korea wanted to pre­vent an esca­la­tion, said Narushige Michishita, a national secu­rity adviser to the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment from 2004–2006.

    “We might want to main­tain some kind of lim­ited strike capa­bil­ity in order to be able to ini­ti­ate a strike, so that we can tell the Amer­i­cans, ‘unless you do the job for us, we will have to do it on our own,’” said Michishita, a secu­rity expert at the National Grad­u­ate Insti­tute for Pol­icy Stud­ies in Tokyo.

    Reflect­ing Japan’s con­cerns, Abe told par­lia­ment in May 2013 that it was vital “not to give the mis­taken impres­sion that the Amer­i­can sword would not be used” in an emergency.

    “At this moment is it really accept­able for Japan to have to plead with the U.S. to attack a mis­sile threat­en­ing to attack Japan?” Abe said.

    Under cur­rent secu­rity guide­lines, in the event of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile attack, “U.S. forces will pro­vide Japan with nec­es­sary intel­li­gence and con­sider, as nec­es­sary, the use of forces pro­vid­ing addi­tional strike power”.


    The infor­mal dis­cus­sions on offen­sive capa­bil­i­ties cover all options, from Japan con­tin­u­ing to rely com­pletely on Wash­ing­ton to get­ting the full panoply of weaponry itself.

    Japan would like to reach a con­clu­sion in about five years, and then start acquir­ing hard­ware, one Japan­ese offi­cial said.

    Tokyo had wanted the dis­cus­sions included in the review of the Japan-U.S. Defense Coop­er­a­tion Guide­lines that are expected to cover areas such as logis­ti­cal sup­port and cyber­se­cu­rity. Those talks, which for­mally kicked off last Octo­ber, are the first in 17 years.


    Since North Korean mis­siles are the offi­cial rea­son given for what could be an incred­i­bly expen­sive spend­ing spree on equip­ment designed to destroy things, it raises the ques­tion of whether or not the North Korean elites could ever have a “price” that the world could pay them to just demil­i­ta­rize and open up their soci­ety to the world. Not just ditch­ing nuclear weapons but a full demil­i­ta­riza­tion and change of gov­ern­ment cou­pled with exten­sive secu­rity guar­an­tees from the global com­mu­nity for the elites and mas­sive aid for the North Korean peo­ple. Is there a “retire­ment pack­age” that the North Korean elites could agree to? They might enjoy life more if they got to freely travel the globe with lots of cash. Sure, it would be incred­i­bly expen­sive, but would it be more expen­sive than end­less mil­i­tary build ups for the whole region? Maybe con­vert­ing some of the dis­puted islands in the region into pri­vate play lands for the for­mer North Korean elites could help reduce the other regional ten­sions too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 11, 2014, 8:41 pm

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