Excerpt from online Yomiuri Shinbun Story, Jan. 11, 2000:
Seeking true independence
In a slight departure from interviews with
and discussions among prominent figures from around the world, this
special installment of this series offers a unique roundtable
attended by three key political leaders in this country: Former Prime
Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone; Koichi Kato, former secretary general of
the Liberal Democratic Party; and Yukio Hatoyama, president of
Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan). The three legislators put
20th-century Japan into perspective while discussing what kinds of
goals, principles and obligations the nation should pursue in the
Nakasone: In the 20th century, the five
major trends were: industrialization, democracy, nationalism,
recently emerged regionalism and finally globalism. In the 21st
century, these trends will be found side by side. The challenge of
this era will be how to develop and harmonize them.
In the fields of environment, information,
science and technology, academic studies and finance, the trend is
toward transcending national boundaries. The advance of the Internet
will lead to a global network, creating an "Internet global citizens
alliance." Such an entity may possess a considerable say over issues
and threaten to dissolve national sovereignty.
Japan, for its part, should solidify its
foundation, by which I mean the Constitution. The Constitution is the
fundamental law of the nation, and solidifying this constitutional
basis will lead to development of civilization in the 21st century
and reconfirm and reunify national awareness.
Kato: Since then-Prime Minister Shigeru
Yoshida signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty (with the United States
and other noncommunist countries) in 1951, Japan has experienced a
lot. After Japan's aligning itself with nations pursuing liberalism
proved to be the right path, Japanese politicians have been unable to
solve certain disputes. Nationalism is said to have been emerging in
certain quarters. Constitutional controversy has begun amid uncertain
prospects of whether nationalism will lead to international
contributions or public contributions to domestic regional
Given these circumstances, a dispute over
the Constitution has emerged. This dispute might, in one respect,
bring about the first important change since the Jomon period (ca
10,000 B.C.-ca 300 B.C.) because it touches on core issues of the
individual versus the whole, as well as the principle of equality.
Hatoyama: It was just pointed out that the
tragedy of war has occurred repeatedly. There has been a transition
from a multipolar world to a bipolar world after World War II and
then to a unipolar one after the Cold War, rather than a transition
from war to peace. In short, with the United States having
unparalleled power, the rest of the world is in a multipolar
structure. I wonder if this power structure should remain unchanged.
I think the 21st century will be a difficult era, in which people are
pressed to solve the extremely difficult problem of how to establish
peace in an era of economic globalism and an era of multilateral and
multipolar political frameworks.
Considering what role Japan has pursued
within this framework, I think answer is the principle of
independence. After Japan was defeated in the war, Japanese adopted a
mentality of dependence on the United States and other advanced
nations and created a society that is extremely dependent on
bureaucrats. In the process, Japan was not able to foster a true
democracy. Japan's biggest challenge in the 21st century will be
establishing a true democracy and liberalism and paving the way for
individuals and the state to become independence.
3 political leaders exchange opinions over
The Last 100 years
It can be said that Japan has constantly
pursued goals. It pursued wealth and military strength before World
War II. Then it tried to catch up economically with Western nations.
Could you sum up Japan's last 100 years?
Nakasone: During the last 100 years, Japan
opened its doors to the world twice. The first time was during the
Meiji Restoration (1868) and the second time was during (the
Occupation led by) Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
A half century later, Japan has entered a
phase of opening itself to the world for a third time, but Japan is
not fully ready for it. Japan doesn't have a blueprint or the
strength for it.
At the time of the first opening, there was
a blueprint for creating a nation-state and there were mighty powers
of the Satsuma and Choshu clans. Because of these factors, Japan was
able towin the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese
The second opening of Japan was propelled by
a blueprint for a U.S.-style democracy.
Reflecting on the past, I think the Meiji
era was a period of progress. The Taisho (1912-1926) and early Showa
(1926-1989) eras marked a period of derailment starting with the 1915
Twenty-one Demands (claims made by the Japanese government for
special privileges in China during World War I). That deepened
Chinese distrust of Japan. Furthermore, Japan made the blunder of
taking no action (to stop arbitrary actions made by the military),
citing "the independence of the supreme command." That caused the
despotism of the military and led to the Greater East Asia War.
After Japan was defeated in the war and
Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of the Allied Powers, came to
Japan, the nation was awakened in many ways.
A thorough analysis of the 50 years since
the war is necessary. Reflecting on these past developments, one
would find the pressing issue of security, which is Japan's
particular headache and is linked to its character. The issue of the
Constitution has emerged at a time when we have realized that we will
have to review and revise it ourselves this time around, rather than
leaving it to MacArthur. Article 9 of the Constitution is ambiguous
and subject to changes in its interpretation with Japan's changing
situation. It is an extremely dangerous situation. At the dawn of the
21st century, we need to build a national consensus on such an
ambiguous matter as soon as possible.
We do not expect major changes until the
House of Representatives election is held this year.
After the election, we need to map out
Japan's future course and have the power to realize it.
Constitutional research panels will be
established in the Diet. In the area of education, proposals have
been made to revise the Fundamentals of Education Law. Those trying
to give momentum to these sorts of national movements should unify.
It is a good thing to have political consolidation in accordance with
politicians' thinking toward policies.
Kato: Japan has actually opened itself up to
the world for the third time. It is the liberalization of the
financial sector, which brought on a revolution that jolted the
Japanese economy and society in its foundations.
Japan originally had egalitarian cultures and
traditions. After the war, the Liberal Democratic Party went along to
a great extent with the demands of the Japan Socialist Party in
particular to maintain its monolithic rule. Japan has become a
high-level welfare state, or a socialist state.
Japan had the so-called convoy protection system and a uniform
educational system. Japan felt there were limits to such systems, and
the Hashimoto Cabinet launched the financial Big Bang.
What has specifically turned Japan
topsy-turvy is the full liberalization of foreign exchange dealings.
The question of what form a nation should
take in this borderless society has been put forward.
What is the significance of traditional
Japanese culture at a time when the economy is becoming increasingly
borderless and individuals' sense of values is being globalized?
From a comprehensive point of view, I
believe there is a sense of coexistence with nature at its most
basic. Some people say love of family is at the root of Japanese
culture and tradition. There are also people's views on the Imperial
Hatoyama: Speaking of the "third opening" of
the nation, let me point out that Japan was forced to open its doors
in the face of external pressures as represented by the "kurofune"
black ships (before the Meiji Restoration) and MacArthur.
If you say that now is the time for the third opening,
that is an idea based on the theory that Japan is always influenced
by external pressures. Fundamentally, a nation should not be forced
to take actions by such external pressures. Japan should be equipped
with an ability to change on its own initiative and adapt to changing
Looking back over the past 100 years, Japan adopted the policy of
enriching and strengthening the nation to catch up with the United
States and European powers. As Japan had to enrich the nation and
build a strong military force, Japan pursued what we call invasive
wars. Even that era was not based on an independent Japanese
initiative. Rather this was a kind of "catch-up"militarism following
a certain model. Japan tried to emulate that model as closely as
But even after MacArthur completely wiped out
that type of militarism, Japan tried to follow an economic model
based on a philosophy of following in the footsteps of other major
To realize that goal, a strong leadership,
mainly consisting of bureaucrats, has always guided the economy and
politics. Politicians have not exercised an active role to a full
Discussion of the Constitution would chart Japan's course in the
21st century. Let us hear your opinions on the issue of the
Hatoyama: Japanese lawmakers have been
reluctant to discuss, from a long-range and broader point of view,
how this country should stand today and in the future. We should hold
more discussions on the way the state should be. If we do so, we
cannot avoid discussing the Constitution.
Some have harbored erroneous ideas such as
discussion of a constitutional revision would put the nation in
danger or would pose a threat for the peace of the nation. And these
ideas have been associated with a stereotyped notion that keeping the
Constitution intact is a manifestation of the pacifism.
On the other hand, there are those who
assert that the Constitution must be amended because it is one
"borrowed" from the United States.
We should stop basing our arguments on these
notions and discuss the matter from a new perspective.
Kato: We often hear people speak of the way
the state should be. In this regard, the most important issues are
where Japan should position itself in a globalized world, what form
Japanese culture and traditions should take, and how Japan has been
up to the present day and what it will be like in the future.
From this point of view, it may be said we
(Japanese) have maintained our own philosophy when it comes to
dealing with nature. The important point is that we should search for
our national identity by returning to that philosophy.
The next important point in discussing how
Japan should be as a nation-state is whether Japan should defend
itself on its own or rely on other countries.
There is some confusion over these issues
because there are those who advocate that Japan should defend itself
on its own while at the same time arguing in favor of maintaining
Japan-U.S. security treaty. These positions
are contradictory. Even the United States considers ensuring its
national security in an international context.
We should firmly take it to heart that our
national security should be considered within the context of
Japan-U.S. relations, or rather within the context of the relations
between Japan, the United States and China.
As for the revision of Article 9 of the
Constitution, I believe we should propose revisions to the public if
the international situation changes in the following three ways.
The first is if bilateralism becomes a
condition for maintenance of the Japan-U.S. security treaty, meaning
that the United States demands bilateralism in the treaty.
The second is if countries around the world
agree to have the United Nations establish standing forces.
The third case is if a "collective security
organization for Asia" is established, and Japan, in accordance with
its obligations as a member, is asked to provide its police and armed
Article 9 contains some phrases that are incomprehensible in
light of the right to individual self-defense. Therefore, we would be
able to win understanding from China and South Korea over the
article's revision if we explained this issue even now.
The most crucial issue is the right to
collective self-defense, which rests on the issue with which country
Japan should conclude a military alliance on the basis of the right
to collective self-defense.
South Korea will not want such an alliance
in the next 10 to 20 years, nor will China. Thus, there is little
likelihood for such an alliance to be formed as a practical theory.
The issue we have to discuss at most depth
is whether we should continue letting the United States alone act as
the international police. As far as this issue is concerned, the
international situation has yet to be ripe for our neighboring
countries to approve Japan's dispatching its armed unit abroad.
We should create favorable diplomatic and
political situations, including the solution of issues left pending
in the postwar period.
Nakasone: It seems odd when Mr. Kato cited
three conditions for amending the Constitution.
If we amend the Constitution only in
relation to actions taken by foreign countries, it shows a lack of
independence. This could run counter to Article 1 of the
Constitution, which stipulates the sovereignity is in the people, and
the people are entitled to enact the Constitution. Democracy is what
puts this right into action.
When considering how the present
Constitution was enacted and the fact that various things have
happened since the enactment, democracy's first step should be that
we Japanese will create and own our own constitution. It is
unreasonable to discuss whether we should or should not amend the
Constitution in view of the nation's relations with foreign
Kato: I would like to refute Mr. Nakasone's
viewpoint. I think that Article 9 of the Constitution was
characterized as the nation's statement to the world about Japan's
postwar diplomacy and national security.
Mr. Nakasone just said that Japan should
make a unilateral judgment on that particular issue. As a matter of
fact, even before the formation of the Nakasone Cabinet, you had been
advocating constitutional revisions, just as you do now.
But once you assumed the post of prime
minister, you had no choice but to state that your cabinet would not
propose constitutional revisions, in light of international
We should take full consideration of Article
9's significance as Japan's statement to other countries.
Nakasone: There are priorities once one
comes into power. In my case, I undertook the major project of
carrying out the administrative and fiscal reforms in which I had
been involved since I was the director general of the now-defunct
Administrative Management Agency. That came first. Next came
educational reform. Meanwhile, constitutional revision was considered
a long-term project, while public opinion was not yet ripe for
If the cabinet had embarked on revision, it
could have caused major disruptions to the higher-priority projects
of administrative and education reforms. I had my strategies, which
was a matter of choice from the viewpoint of a politician.
Differentiating between principle and strategy is realpolitik.
Another important issue is that of the right
of collective self-defense. I have long asserted that it is absurd to
argue that even though Japan has the right of individual
self-defense, it cannot exercise the right of collective
The right of collective self-defense means
that a country joins hands with its allies because it cannot defend
itself single-handedly. As long as a country has the right to defend
itself and exercises that right, the country should be allowed, as a
matter of course, to exercise that right even if it does so jointly
with other countries.
Paragraph 1 of Article 9 can stay in place,
but I think we should revise Paragraph 2.
Hatoyama: The most insecure element as far
as Article 9 is concerned is the tendency of top government leaders
to often read between the lines to their own advantage.
Both in the Constitution and laws, we should
discuss what should or should not be written and should stipulate
what should be.
If we have forces which are apparently
considered armed forces under international law, we should admit that
we have military forces. And then we should make an international
declaration of what they cannot do. While doing so, I think it is
possible to revise Article 9 for Japan'snational security in such a
way as to win full approval from our neighboring countries.
As to Japan's foreign policy, Mr. Kato
insists that the Japan-U.S.-China relationship should be in the form
of equilateral triangle in terms of power balance, while Mr. Hatoyama
argues in favor of maintaining the Japan-U.S. security treaty without
U.S. troops stationed permanently in
Japan. What basic diplomatic stance do you think Japan should
adopt for its future foreign policies on Japan-U.S. relations and
Kato: Japan must give urgent and serious
thought to why the United States has long maintained the Japan-U.S.
security treaty. This is because Japan has sufficient diplomatic
channels with China--the country with the strongest political
influence in Asia--and is the nation that the United States gives
most weight when implementing its international strategy.
Therefore, the United States wants to firmly
maintain the Japan-U.S. security treaty, because otherwise its
national interests will be undermined.
When forecasting the prospective
circumstances in Asia over a 15-year span, I come to the conclusion
that Japan, the United States and China should maintain a firmly
triangular relationship. From a comprehensive multilateral
perspective, we should recognize the necessity of the three nations'
forming the relationship of an equilateral triangle. Unless such a
triangle is maintained, members of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations and southwest Asian nations will develop serious anxiety
concerning the future of the entire region.
Hatoyama: It is a big problem that the sides
of the triangle are not equilateral. While I am very aware of the
importance of the Japan-U.S. security treaty, I am of the opinion
that Japan should keep some distance from the United States when it
comes to security.
We should make more efforts to reinforce
China's confidence in Japan because we are not certain what the
future holds for U.S.-China relations.
In this light, it cannot completely be ruled
out that Washington and Beijing will not compete with each other over
hegemony. Thus, it is potentially somewhat dangerous to consider it
safe to always side with the United States.
I agree with Mr. Kato's opinion that it is
contradictory to advocate independent self-defense while calling for
augmenting the Japan-U.S. security treaty. My argument for a security
treaty without the permanent presence of U.S. troops is quite similar
to that in favor of independent self-defense.
I am not saying, however, that will happen.
Practically speaking, it is impossible. In making that argument, I
would rather propose that the nation gradually shift its national
security policy from reinforcing the bilateral security treaty to
establishing a framework of multilateral security arrangements in the
Nakasone: Listening to both of your
arguments, I feel that your awareness of international affairs is too
naive. I think it is particularly mistaken to place equal weight on
the nation's relations with the United States and China.
We share almost identical values and systems
with the United States in terms of freedom, democracy, human rights
and the market economy. On the contrary, China is a communist country
that is equipped with a powerful military whose composition is not
necessarily clear to the outside, and the country has developed
different values. It is basically an error to use the same approach
in dealing with the two nations.
There were many problems with the
ratification of the Japan-U.S. security treaty at the time.
Nonetheless, peace and stability have been
fundamentally maintained in the Asia-Pacific region.
It would not be necessary for us to destroy
the basic framework of such security arrangements now. The Japan-U.S.
security treaty, though its effect is invisible, has played an
extremely important role in maintaining Japan's national security.
Also in view of the 21st century, we should
keep the security treaty intact as an axis for national security. The
maintenance of peace in the Asia-Pacific region can be sustained by a
network of bilateral alliance treaties, such as the Japan-U.S.
security treaty and similar alliance treaties concluded by the United
States vis-a-vis South Korea and Australia.
It will be much more desirable, however, if
Japan, using the Japan-U.S. security treaty as a basis, can establish
a security mechanism designed to help concerned countries communicate
with each other, build up confidence in each other and jointly
prevent and stop conflicts&emdash;by forming a multilateral network
of security in northeast Asia in cooperation with such countries as
Russia, China, North and South Korea, and the United States. It is
important for Japan to carry out its national security and diplomatic
strategies with the Japan-U.S. security treaty and the multilateral
security cooperation framework as the main pillars in the 21st
Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun