"Transformation" of the U.S.Forces and Self-Defense
November 5, 2007
<Professor of Ryukoku University,
Japan Institution of Constitutional Law Visiting Researcher>
A U.S. movie "Clear and Present Danger" was made
in 1994. Staring Harrison Ford, it is just a typical Hollywood
action hit. I like it because the dark inside of the CIA was
portrayed. I was amazed by the way the title was translated
into Japanese; "Ima-sokoniaru-kiki - the crisis
that is right there." Many people know that the expression
"clear and present danger" is a law term; U.S. standard
for judging whether the Constitution allows abridging freedom
of speech in each particular case. Japanese law academies
have translated the term directly word by word. Though "crisis"
and "danger" are not exactly the same, I admire
the wording "that is right there," because it is
much easier to understand, than "clear and present."
I found that academic groups have preferred academically translated
jargon no matter how difficult it is for ordinary people to
A recent Hollywood movie "Transformer" was co-produced
by Michael Bay, who produced "Armageddon," and Steven
Spielberg who produced "War of the World." As "Transformer"
was advertised as a great SF work, it used computer graphic
and other techniques formidably to the full extent. However,
the story was dull. Numerous lives from outer space invade
the earth, they change into various machines. And the U.S.
military troops fight against them. To make the story a little
sophisticated, some of the aliens fight on our side for justice
and sacrifice themselves. It is easy to understand that the
movie tries to positively portray the U.S. military activities
after the 9.11 tragedy: big cities in the U.S. were attacked
and battles take place in a desert in Qatar.
The title "Transformer" was just put into Japanese
characters phonetically without translation. However, on the
caption, "transform" was translated correctly into
Japanese when the invaders transform. The word "transform"
reminds me of recent U.S. military policy. A big change is
taking place in the structure of global deployment of the
U.S. military forces, which is pushing Japan to change its
Constitution. The U.S. government prefers to use the word
"transformation" to describe the whole process,
while Japanese major news media use saihen or reformation.
In case the formation of the U.S. forces is changed, that
should be called reformation. However, what is taking place
right now is more drastic one, far more dangerous than reformation.
Partly because of the budget deficit, the U.S. is trying to
drastically cut its huge 200 thousand troops stationing overseas,
while improving its ability of prompt military actions in
what they call "Arc of Instability," the vast arc
area which consists of East Africa, Middle East and Korean
Peninsula. Japan's role is vial for this transformation. Japan
is expected to play a vital role in this transformation by
having key military functions for commanding, dispatching,
retreat and maintenance on its land. The U.S. troops can not
act promptly in the Arc of Instability if they have to start
from their mainland which is too far. Japan, which is conveniently
located on a strategic point in the Arc of Instability, is
so safe, stable and loyal that the U.S. may regard it as its
51st state. Therefore, the U.S. plans to reinforce its military
presence in Japan until the archipelago becomes a huge never-sinking
aircraft carrier, while recalling its overseas troops elsewhere.
If you call this dramatic change "reformation,"
it is so misleading that it can be defined as a misinterpretation.
Japan's Foreign Ministry translates it in a better way and
uses "change." We may borrow the conception of "transform,"
meaning "metamorphose," from the Hollywood movie
to explain people what is actually taking place.
U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) meetings,
the "2+2" meetings, were held in Washington D.C.
to finalize their plan. On October 29, 2005, the day after
the LDP released its draft of new Constitution, they announced
in an interim report that they had reached a basic agreement.
On May 2005, three days after Japan's cabinet approved revision
of Education Fundamentals Law, they issued the final report
and disclosed the details of the agreement. Military cooperation
with the U.S. and revision of fundamental laws must have connections.
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty has grown far beyond the official
purpose of defending Japan or the area around Japan. The objective
of the Japan-U.S. military alliance now is to work together
for "global security."
With that basic policy, the Japanese government is spending
a portion of this year's budget to purchase some latest models
of weapons of mass destruction such as plenty of PAC3 land-to-air
missiles in order to install missile defense system. One PAC3
costs 600 million yen. Japanese government is now considering
spending a trillion yen to purchase 40 of 25 billion yen stealth
fighters in the next fiscal year. The decisive development
is that some of the U.S. military bases in Japan are newly
having commanding functions, which have been only in the mainland
of the U.S. Another devastating fact is that the U.S. is forcing
Japan to bear 3 trillion yen, the cost of construction and
moving of U.S. military facilities: to move an army command
to Zama and an air force command to Yokota, and to construct
a new offshore base with the highest level of functions in
Henoko area, Nago City, to make up for Futenma base which
is to be closed and returned.
Major news media plainly call this massive military transformation
"reformation," making it difficult for people to
realize how serious it is. However, there is a small lucky
development; the disclosure of the bribery affair of former
Vice Defense Minister Moriya, in which the corrupt and immoral
defense official was treated and entertained by the suppliers
of military equipment. Moriya's case is not only a domestic
corruption case. We have observed that the military supplies
which Japan buys from the U.S. are outrageously expensive.
It is almost obvious that trading companies and highly officials
receive their portions out of the huge military budget. We
must change this evil scandal into a helpful tool to disclose
the nature of the military transformation which is taking
Here is another encouraging development. Japan's Maritime
Defense Force is retreating from its logistics or fueling
service to the U.S. military. The fueling started as the first
major step in the military transformation. It is clear that
the public opposition was a major factor in stopping it. I
hope that this positive change paves the way to the thorough
investigation of the nature and realities of the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq, and of the dubious financial structure of Japan's
fueling service in which Japan buys oil from U.S. major companies
to give it free to the U.S. forces, and to the reexamination
of the Japanese government's senseless explanation that logistics
is not a part of military activities.
In these years, the SDF continued to expand their actions
abroad. Their recent retreat from the Middle East is remarkable.
However, the crisis remains right here, as there is a chance
that they may join in military activities again. In China,
where Chinese characters were invented, weixian (kiken
in Japanese), danger, and jihui (kikai), opportunity
or chance to evade dangers, combine and form the word weiji
(kiki), or crisis. Let's make the "crisis that
is right there" a good opportunity to keep Japan away
from military operations forever.
Editor's Note by the secretariat of Japan Institute of
The Self Defence Forces' fuelling operation in the Indian
Ocean ceased when the anti-terrorism law expired. However,
the Diet later passed the new law, and the SDF's replenishment
ships left Japan for the Indian Ocean again in January 2008.
March ,17, 2008