Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, Chair of Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, speaks at UH EWC Oct 11, 2013 on Japan’s need to remilitarize

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Hi Blog.  Yesterday I attended the following speech:

KitaokaShinichiEWCflyer

I attended because I wanted to see what was making one of PM Abe’s leading advisors tick.  Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint.

He spoke in excellent English, and came off as a very articulate, passionate, and fluent advocate of his cause, which is essentially to make Japan strong enough militarily to deter China.  He did not feel a need to be restrained by a diplomat’s training, calling various schools of thought “totally wrong” and “stupid”, nor an academic’s subtlety that should come with a doctorate, where he said with firm certainty at various stages that “no Japanese” wants things like expansion of Japan’s borders (he also called Koreans an “emotional people”).  Almost all of the geopolitical problems he referred to in his talk were traced back to China, and he made a strong, reasoned plea for Japan’s inherent sovereign right for collective self defense in order to “contribute to peace and stability” by being empowered to assist Japan’s friends and allies (particularly, naturally, the Americans).

Dr. Kitaoka was very smooth.  He pushed all the right rhetorical buttons with an American audience (this one at the EWC quite full of American military brass; the audience was quite emotive), contrasting rich, democratic, non-nuclear, and “peace-loving” Japan with richening, undemocratic, nuclear and unfree China, which is increasing its defense budget every year and seeking territorial expansion (he even mentioned China’s dealings in Africa in that context).  He also smoothed feathers to head off the “Genie in the Bottle” argument (which is one image the US military uses to justify its continued presence in Japan — to stop Japan from remilitarizing) by pointing out five conditions why today’s Japan is different.  (See them well elaborated in his Yomiuri article scanned below.)

So to this end, Japan would need its first National Security Council, which would hopefully be established by November 2013.

There were a couple more surprises in Dr. Kitaoka’s talk.  One was that he was arguing that Japan is essentially in the same position today as China was in the early 20th century, where Japan is the one now who should think about how to defend itself from unjustified aggression from China!  The other surprise was his reasoning about why the world should not worry about Japan’s potential renewed territorial expansion abroad — because treaty agreements between the US and South Korea would preclude Japan’s need to invade the Korean Peninsula for defensive reasons (now that’s a novel take on Japan’s colonial history!).

Oh, and that it would be an impossibility for Japan to go nuclear again, because Japan as a huge developed economy integrated into world markets is particularly vulnerable to international sanctions.  But China, you see, is a member of the UN Security Council, unlike Japan, and they make UN sanctions more “ineffective”.  Less democratic countries, such as China and Russia, have more power in the UN than the democratic countries such as Japan, Germany, India, and Brazil… (and that was a very neat way to allude to Japan’s need for a UNSC seat — told you he was smooth).

The Q&A was done by people passing papers to the front to be sorted, vetted, and read by EWC staff.

In the end, Dr. Kitaoka talked like I would expect one of Japan’s elites to talk — seeing the world only in terms of power, and how Japan needs more of it because its neighbors are security threats.  That’s what any security analyst will say, of course (that’s how they’re trained), but Dr. Kitaoka spoke like a trained Gaijin Handler representing PM Abe’s political agenda, not a scholar.  Fascinating in that light, but scary, since these are the people who have been voted right back into power and want to dramatically alter Japan’s future policy.

Through him we can see PM Abe’s remilitarizing machinations and goals.  And next month, here they come.  Arudou Debito

NB:  LLK sends links to his full speech (with Q&A) available on vimeo.com. Here’s the link:

http://vimeo.com/77183187

Japan’s New National Security Strategy in the Making from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Here are the handouts that were presented to the audience for Dr. Kitaoka’s talk:

(click on image to expand in browser)

KitaokaShinichiYomiuri

KitaokaShinichihandout1KitaokaShinichihandout2
ENDS

53 comments on “Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, Chair of Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, speaks at UH EWC Oct 11, 2013 on Japan’s need to remilitarize

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  • @ Bayfield #49

    You should watch Slavoj Zizek’s videos on Youtube about Nationalism & Violence. When he talks about Burlusconi’s model of society (popular buffoon leading a country in which the people can enjoy all perversions, but without freedom of social discourse), he could almost be writing the textbook on Abe.
    It’s very interesting if you watch from a position of knowing who Abe is and what he is up to. It explains that inflation and war are essential ingredients for fascism, and we know that Abe belongs to (even leads some) groups that have policy goals aimed at returning Japanese society to 1930’s values (i.e. fascism).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjgWoA25ohs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlHpNXP7IA0

    Also very interesting is Zizeks attack on buddhism, in which he singles out buddhism’s role in normalizing Japan’s war-crimes (in the process showing that D. T. Suzuki, though popular in the west, actually was a prime-mover in rationalizing, even inciting the Japanese to commit war-crimes).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwm_dR-XMSY

  • JDG (#51)

    Many thanks for the precious – and timely – Zizek links. His remarks on the sacred cow D.T. Suzuki are spot on and should be more widely discussed.

    Another Japanese sacred cow that should be equally uncovered for his central role in wartime nationalism and the building up of nihonjinron is Watsuji Tetsuro. It’s quite amazing how he is still lionised by some European scholars for his ecological and ethical views. (I wonder, with some perversity, what Zizek would make of them…)

    I’ve just re-read this brilliant essay by Harumi Befu (one of the few scholars who has cut through the crap of Watsuji’s nihonjinron) and found a most amazing quote from Fuudo (Climate and Culture, in the available English trans.), Watsuji’s masterpiece published in the 1930s. In it Watsuji contrasts his highly flattering characterisation of Japan with his dismal view of “anarchic” China, even though he acknowledges both as “Monsoon” cultures. Here it goes:

    “There is here [in China] a close affinity with the anarchic tendency of the Chinese, who submits to no restraints other than those based in blood or regional association. The Chinese has no mind for tax burdens imposed by the state; he escapes his obligations in the matter of military service; he ignores orders and treats the law as scrap-paper; he gambles and smokes his opium. In short, he evades all state control and conducts himself at his own will.”

    This speaks volumes of Japan’s self-perception vis-a-vis its nemesis – up to the present day. Well, no wonder then that, as Zizek points out in one of his talks, the Japanese construed their invasion of China as a “merciful” intervention to teach those people some manners and save them from themselves.

    As Befu observes in his concluding remark, it’s no wonder either that Watsuji’s Fuudo has remained so popular in Japan: “it is constructed on ‘we-philosophy’, which fits the Japanese mode of thinking like hand and glove”. Abe, Kitaoka & Co. would certainly endorse it!

    The full reference: Befu, Harumi. 2004. “Watsuji Tetsuro’s Ecological Approach: Its Philosophical Foundations”. In Asquith and Kalland (eds.), Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives. London: Routledge.

  • @ DK, Watsuji, Abe, Aso’le and co. just dont get civil disobedience. They are frightened of it, of individual freedoms.

    Japan could benefit a bit more from e.g. the alleged “chinese evasion of state control” but this is all Pot and Kettle.

    Lots of crooked Japanese little companies and businessmen (I can say mostly men, in misogynist Japan) ignoring laws like paying health insurance for their NJ workers etc.

    And what is pachinko? Its gambling.

    “has no mind for tax burdens imposed by the state”- you mean like those crooked Japanese corporations that have no paid tax in the UK recently?

    This can be traced back even to Ito Hirobumi. His limited revolution ushered in some change, but a bit like Deng Xiaoping and not like Gorbachev, human rights were never part of it- the Prussian model/German law etc was the order of the day.

    Ditto the recent official in Japan who said “the people might get the mistaken idea that they govern themselves” (sorry, forget who).

    Can you really believe that these bluebloods, who inherited their seats, are democrats? Their whole mission since 1955 has been to roll back individual freedoms in favor of citizen obligations to the state. And now they are getting their way.

    Fascism is linked with corporatism; that is, the subordinance of individuals to large company/state interests. Yes, that sounds like Japan, and it becomes more so with each new item of the Abe agenda.

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