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Essay and Opinion

Richard Armitage's 2007 Report Vows to Change 60-year-old Constitution of Japan

April 30 2007

Prof.Hideki Mori
<Professor of Ryukoku University,
Japan Institution of Constitutional Law Visiting Researcher>

The Japanese Constitution has been in effect for 60 years. Traditionally, we celebrate the 60th birthday as a special occasion. However, instead of celebrating, our government discourteously prepares retirement of the Constitution. Last autumn, the 60th anniversary of its promulgation was tainted by the revision of the Fundamentals of Education Act. At the age 60, the Constitution is being choked, as the Diet has passed the National Referendum Law for its amendment and approved additional financial aid for the U.S. military's restructuring and relocation.
This murder plot has an overseas accomplice: the U.S. government, who supervised the birth of the Japanese Constitution, boldly tries to burry it. The U.S. government has long been taking such a stance; however, they are getting more serious these days. Their renewed resolution is expressed in a report written by Richard L. Armitage et al., "The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Getting Asia Right through 2020" published this year by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). I would like to discuss this heavy report which is almost ignored by the media.
Richard Lee Armitage, born in 1945, graduated from the United States Naval Academy. He was a career military officer before becoming a politician. He maintains his influence as an expert of U.S.-Japan security policy. People say that he is the model of Rambo, acted by Sylvester Stallone in a violent hit movie about war. Armitage denies that rumor; however, his appearance is just right for the hero portrayed in the movie, a big brave soldier in the Vietnamese War. He seems to be quite critical of the U.S. government's strategies, which are often compiled by those who have no experience in military troops and real battle fields. As soon as President Bush took office, Armitage was promoted to Deputy Secretary of State. Later he resigned, criticizing reckless policy of the Bush Administration. He published a well-known report, titled "The United States and Japan: Advancing Toward a Mature Partnership" in October 2000 when Clinton Administration was at the last stage. The report revealed basic policy of the next regime. This year's report is an updated version of the 2000 report.
In its introduction, the 2007 report discloses its hegemonism by explaining that its goal is to encourage "an environment in which the region's leaders define their own national success in terms that are consonant with U.S. political and economic objectives." It seems to acknowledges that there is increasing criticism against the unilateralism of recent U.S. policy, by stating that "the longer-term imperative to secure major power cooperation should be the organizing principle for a sustainable and effective U.S. foreign policy," and that "cooperative relations among the major powers: the United States, Japan, China, Russia, India, and Europe" are central to the U.S. foreign policy. After analyzing some Asian countries, it states that "the best structure for Asia" from the U.S. point of view "rests on sustained U.S. strength, commitment, and leadership in the region, combined with proactive participation in regional affairs by Asia's other successful powers" and adds that, "An open structure in which Japan, India, Australia, Singapore, and others are leading by example, based on partnerships with the United States and shared democratic values, is the most effective way." Thus, it clearly declares the U.S. commitment to make a U.S.-centered Asia by strengthening the relationships with its allies. Accordingly, the U.S.-Japan alliance is rated as "the keystone of the United States' position in Asia."
This report is realistic, in that it acknowledges that there are some criticisms against the U.S. It does not forget to point out that "some argue that if we rely too much on the U.S.-Japan alliance, we and Japan will be isolated in Asia. They point to the immediate tensions between Japan and China and between Japan and Korea over historical issues and advocate a shift in our long-term strategy to China." These remarks show its concern that Japan may be isolated in Asia because of some Japanese groups' denial of Japan's responsibility in wars in last century.
Recent bilateralism in U.S.-Japan alliance is favorably discussed in this report. It looks back that "the U.S.-Japan security relationship operated under two fundamental principles: that the United States will defend Japan and areas under its administration, and that Japan would provide bases and facilities for U.S. forces in country for the security of the Far East. This, coupled with Japan's selfimposed constraints on defense, formed a security framework that compelled an inevitable junior-senior partnership until recent years." Then, it says, "Japan's active participation abroad better mirrored its global interests and helped to diminish the security hierarchy that typified the U.S.-Japan relationship in the past." Regarding "what we must do to face future challenges," the report analyses that "even while reflecting on the positive changes that have taken place in the last five years, we recognize that much more can be done to advance our security relationship and thereby support a proactive and positive presence within Asia." It cries out for "recasting of Japan's role and selfperception" in security matters. Regarding the manner in which Japan "has strictly limited its reach on security" for historical background, the report suggests that "the future demands concerted thought on whether this approach remains sufficient given the challenges ahead and Japan's own desire for a global leadership role." It calls for the integration of Japanese and the U.S. military operations and for expansion of the roles of Japanese Self Defense Forces, by stating that "it is important that Japan shoulder responsibilities in providing for the mainstay of its own defense. This includes missile defense capabilities to protect adequately its people, its critical infrastructure, and areas of U.S. Forces Japan."
In the "Recommendations" chapter, the report demands establishment of Japan's NSC, by stating that "Modern challenges necessitate that Japan have the capability to manage foreign and security policies, particularly during times of crisis, with speed, agility, and flexibility, while sustaining internal coordination and security of intelligence and information." It also cheers the move toward the revision of the Constitution by saying that, "The ongoing debate in Japan on the Constitution is encouraging as it reflects increasing Japanese interest in regional and global security matters" and that "the United States would welcome an alliance partner with greater latitude to engage where our shared security interests may be affected." Additionally, it stresses the importance of Japan's legislation to allow permanent overseas deployment of its troops, by saying that "The ongoing discussion regarding legislation that would allow for the overseas deployment of Japanese forces based on certain conditions (as opposed to the current system, which requires ad hoc legislation in every case) is also encouraging. The United States wishes to see a security partner with greater flexibility to deploy on short notice when the situation warrants". Further, it argues that "According to figures published by the CIA, Japan ranks in the top five in the world in gross defense expenditures, but number 134 in the world in terms of defense budget as a percentage of GDP." Therefore "it is extremely important that the Japanese Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces are adequately resourced as they pursue modernization and reform." In other words, it recommends that Japan enormously expand its armaments. And it teaches Japan that military capability is necessary if it wants to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and states "As a permanent member, Japan would be a part of the decisionmaking body charged with compelling others to comply with its determinations, sometimes including the use of force. The inequity of participating in this decisionmaking without contributing to the full scope of possible responses is a matter that Japan should address as it seeks permanent membership." In short, through the Recommendations chapter, it overtly insists that the Japanese Constitution should be changed.
Its "Annex: Security and Military Cooperation" consists of detailed recommendations such as: increasing "Japan's capabilities for peacekeeping," having "a Japanese Defense Ministry representative at PACOM (U.S. Pacific Command), and a U.S. military representative at the (Japanese) Joint Staff Office," using "space to enhance security cooperation," "fully exercising a Bilateral Joint Operation Command Center," and deploying "a squadron of F-22s to Japan." We must note that all of these are already planned, if not carried out, by Japanese and the U.S. military authorities.
Missile Defense, for example, is commented in this report that "In particular, in light of recent events, Japan should consider developing a special budget for ballistic missile defense." In addition, the report says, "The United States and Japan should consider opportunities for joint development of key systems, subsystems, and related technologies for the CG(X), the successor to the Ticonderoga Class, Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser." This Missile Defense story is not only a plan for the future. As early as in July 2006, when North Korea launched some missiles, three U.S. Aegis destroyers from Yokosuka Base and two SDF ships, supply ship Hamana and destroyer Kongo, worked close together. Hamana supplied to the U.S. Aegis destroyers twice, while a U.S. officer was commanding Kongo on board. They were already operating what they call "collective self-defense" which in fact is joint military operations for the U.S.
Not only American but also Japanese forces are being transformed. .Japan's Self-Defense Forces are transforming their equipment, structure, chain of command and training, for overseas joint operations with the U.S. forces. When Self-Defense Agency was upgraded to a ministry, the SDF Law was stealthly revised to add overseas activities in its main duty. That was a substantial transformation of the main purpose of having SDF; a self-defense system for overseas operation.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party already planned that in its draft for the new Constitution. They plan to erase the existing Article 9's Clause 2, and to add 9-2-1 in which they qualify SDF as military forces. Then Article 9-2-3 of the draft states that the Japanese forces' duty includes "activities in international coordination to maintain peace and security of the international community." Such activities are not genuinely global cooperation, but mere U.S.-Japan joint military operations. The LDP's draft says that the details are defined by a law, which was already enacted last year in the revised SDF Law.
It may take some time to revise the Constitution itself. However, everything else will have been transformed when the Constitution is revised. Things change so fast these days. We must be warned that some the changes we observe today are some processes of the operation to transform the Constitution, which has already begun.