Jeff Korpa on Diet debates regarding Anti-Terrorism


Hi Blog. Busy day today, so I’m not going to do much with the blog today, sorry. Here’s a message from Jeff Korpa, regarding the Japanese Diet ever rescinding or tempering the anti-terrorism putsches which have resulted in our upcoming fingerprinting laws (but have recently become hung up on whether or not Japanese ships should refuel coalition ships in the Indian Ocean).

As Jeff notes, even if the LDP is stymied at the moment, anti-terrorism moves in future will probably not be deep-sixed, even if the DPJ were to somehow assume power. Forwarding with permission. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Hi Debito:

In a previous message I said: “Regarding the Anti-terrorism Law, my belief is that reports of its demise are premature. Despite Ozawa having the power to snuff out the legislation, and his rhetoric about how the change in the LDP leadership would not change DPJ’s resolve on the issue, Ozawa has long supported lifting restrictions on Japan’s security forces. For instance, in 1998 he remarked that it only required a reinterpretation of the constitution to allow Japanese defense forces to take part in overseas combat operations. And less than a year later, Ozawa warned that the SDF needed strengthening.”

Well, even though Fukuda has been unable to get support from Ozawa in order to attain upper house approval for an extension to the Anti-terrorism Law, I *still* don’t this is the end of the road for this legislation — as long as Fukuda can secure two-thirds of the lower house in a subsequent vote (which he can since the lower house is controlled by the LDP), the Anti-terrorism Law (and the controversial refueling missions) will live to see another day.

OK, so why aren’t the two boys playing nice together? I have two theories — Small Politics and Big Politics:

Small Politics: Ozawa is playing games trying to capitalize on the MSDF refelling issue so he steal back some popularity that Fukuda won in the aftermath of Abe’s resignation.

Big Politics: With regard to Japan’s military future, the long-term goals of the DPJ and LDP are the same, but the two men are at odds as to what role the United States should play.

Ozawa (once an LDP member himself mind you), has long accused the LDP of being too closely tied to the U.S. for Japan’s own defense. He has also been a strong voice for Japan taking part in international peacekeeping operations (albeit by reinterpreting the constitution), which would be a step toward redefining Japanese military capabilities and actions. For instance, in 1999, Ozawa called for deployment of Japanese peacekeepers to East Timor. And more recently, he said Tokyo should send peacekeepers to Sudan. In fact, he has gone further than that — in 2003 he said that should China become too “conceited,” the Japanese could grow “hysterical,” and that, “If Japan desires, it can possess thousands of nuclear warheads.”

So Ozawa’s vision is a strong, independent Japanese military. It seems to me that he and his supporters want Japanese military development to occur under the guise of international cooperation — the country should participate in U.N. missions but keep from being drawn into U.S. conflicts.

In contrast, I believe that Fukuda and the rest of the LDP brain trust are of the opinion that hooking up with the U.S. is the quickest and easiest road to realizing a militarily independent Japan. It looks like the LDP wants to let Washington continue to provide for Japan’s security so that they can focus on building up the nation’s defense capabilities (e.g. taking advantage of technology transfers and joint development of defense systems with the U.S.).

At any rate, another reason why I think the Anti-terrorism Law will be back sooner or later is because of outside pressure from the U.S. in the form of Defense Secretary Robert Gates who will arrive in Tokyo during the week of November 4th. By an amazing coincidence, Mr. Gates’ visit is due to come a week after the MSDF finished refueling their last customer (a Pakistani navy destroyer) under the Anti-terrorism Law.

It will interesting to see what the two boys do after Gates has come and gone.

Regards, Jeff Korpa

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