January 19, 2000

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Call grows for review of policy

Some young bureaucrats and lawmakers say Japan should speak more boldly and question the cost of U.S. bases.


Asahi Shimbun senior staff writer

Today, the 40th anniversary of the Jan. 19, 1960, signing of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty by Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi and U.S. Secretary of State Christian Herter, finds the bilateral security arrangement at a watershed as some government bureaucrats have openly questioned its merit and its cost.

The Ministry of Finance is reviewing the financial support provided for the U.S. forces presence in Japan following the reduction of spending on facilities and personnel that resulted from negotiations between the ministry and the Defense Agency.

Historically, the Finance Ministry has accepted without question any spending for U.S. forces put forth by the Defense Agency. Now, however, some young bureaucrats and some members of the Diet are trying to move away from giving carte blanche as if the spending were sacrosanct, according to sources within the Finance Ministry.

The contrarian bureaucrats and legislators say they see the significance of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty as having been challenged since the end of the Cold War. They also hold that the nation's financial straits and the sacrifices being made by Japanese who live near U.S. military bases should lead to a closer scrutiny of the nature of the security relationship and the way bases are used.

In November last year, Shunsuke Kagawa, a senior budget examiner in the ministry's Budget Bureau, broke with convention and conducted his own investigation of the U.S. Navy bases at Yokosuka and Atsugi, in Kanagawa Prefecture, the Air Force facility at Yokota, western Tokyo, and at Kadena Air Base and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture. After explaining the difficult financial situation of the central government, Kagawa asked a U.S. military officer whether such accessories as lighting and carpets in base buildings were paid for out of the Japanese subsidy or the U.S. government's budget.

Financial support for the U.S. base operations here began in 1978, when the U.S. government was going through its own financial difficulties. The initial subsidy of 6.2 billion yen was provided to support troop welfare facilities at U.S. bases.

Since then, support has been expanded to include facility maintenance, the salaries of Japanese civilians working on U.S. bases, and the cost of electricity and water. The Japanese subsidies had grown to about 268 billion yen from the national coffers in the fiscal year that will end March 31.

Before Kagawa began his investigation, as negotiations for developing the national budget got under way in December, Kagawa was not willing to simply accept the proposed spending for U.S. forces put forth by the Defense Facilities Administration and U.S. Forces Japan. Instead, he asked the agency to make further budget cuts.

Kagawa's experience in Japan-U.S. insurance negotiations led him to believe that Japan needs to make clear its own policy and negotiate firmly with the United States.

Defense Agency officials, however, say that a tough stance on budget cuts below the level already agreed upon by U.S. Forces and the Defense Agency could undermine the trust between Japan and the United States.

Japan should avoid doing anything that would displease the United States in advance of the G-8 Summit to be held in Okinawa in July, some officials say.

The Finance Ministry says Japan's financial support of the U.S. military presence should be brought down to a level that the people of Japan can regard as appropriate to the nation's financial circumstances, which are now worse than those of the United States.

The Foreign Ministry and the Defense Agency will have to conduct more negotiations with the United States in 2001 on revision of arrangements on the U.S. bases. One advocate of a firm stance on Japan's part is Kunihiko Saito, former Japanese ambassador to the United States, who addressed the issue in a lecture on Monday.

`The criticism to the government as having followed in the footsteps of the U.S. government is off the mark,'' Saito said. ``Putting priority on Japan's benefit in the middle- and long-term, we have said `No' to the U.S. government so often that we felt diffident,'' he said.

His comments come from a background of years of tough negotiation with Washington as Saito worked in the Foreign Affairs Ministry as chief of its Treaties Bureau, and as deputy minister for foreign affairs and administrative vice minister before assuming the post of ambassador.

But the widely held public view is quite different from the opinions expressed by Saito. Takakazu Kuriyama, Saito's predecessor as ambassador to the United States and now a professor of political science at Waseda University, asked his students for their views at a graduate seminar in December.

He asked the 12 students to raise their hand if they agreed with the opinion that Japan's diplomatic policies only follow those of the U.S. government's. Eleven students agreed, Kuriyama said.

``Japan and the United States have influence on each other, but the influence by the United States is inevitably greater,'' he said. ``Seeing such bilateral relations, people consequently have the impression that the United States is the master and Japan is the servant. The same thing can be said about the relationship between the United States and Europe. It is a difficult problem,'' Kuriyama said.

``We have thought that when we say the Japan-U.S. bilateral relationship is good, it means U.S. side has no problem,'' Kuriyama added. ``However, I noticed at the beginning of the year that there are two aspects-the one held in Japan and the other as viewed from the United States. I feel a little regretful that I had failed to notice that,'' he said.

``Concerning the recent U.S.-Japan relationship, the United States sees no major problem, but seeing from the Japanese side, it is not the case.''

Within the Foreign Ministry, many staffers in their 50s have a common view. Among them is Nobuaki Tanaka, Japanese consul general in San Francisco, who worked in the ministry's North American Affairs Bureau and the Foreign Policy Bureau, and who was involved in talks on the relocation of the heliport function of the Futenma Air Station at Ginowan, in Okinawa Prefecture.

``During the Cold War, the national interests of the United States and Japan were the same. In the post-Cold War era, the meaning of the U.S.-Japan security treaty has changed and it continues to change depending on the changes in the situations surrounding the two nations,'' Tanaka said.

``Japan should draw its own self-portrait based on its own national interests. In the past, the United States has drawn the picture for Japan,'' he said.

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English recommended as official language

Asahi Shimbun

An advisory panel to Prime minister Keizo Obuchi on Tuesday issued its final report, recommending drastic reform in education, immigration, electoral and security policies.

The report, ``Japan's goals for the 21st century,'' urged the government to adopt a three-day week for compulsory education and two days for extracurricular subjects or activities.

The panel, headed by Hayao Kawai, director-general of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, also called for bolstering English language education. The report urges government publications be written in both Japanese and English.

It also calls for holding a national debate on whether to make English an official second language.

On immigration policy, the report called for efforts to encourage foreign students studying in Japan to take up permanent residence here.

To promote greater participation in politics by young people, the panel proposed the voting age be lowered from 20 to 18. The report also said Japan should consider direct elections for prime minister.

The report said Japan's national security should be based on stability, maintenance, and use of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. Furthermore, the report says Japan should promote legal reform and encourage public debate concerning such issues as exercising the right of collective self-defense.

The panel said it is concerned that Japan will decline if distrust in politics and the administration of government grows. The report said these problems could be ameliorated by empowering individuals.

``These are middle- and long-term goals,'' Obuchi said.

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Obuchi: I'll lead LDP to victory


Asahi Evening News

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi pledged this morning at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's annual convention in Tokyo to lead the LDP to victory in this year's Lower House election.

``I urge you to prepare for any and all situations,'' Obuchi told the party faithful.

Obuchi has the authority to dissolve the lower chamber for a snap vote. The Lower House election must be held no later than October when the incumbents' current term expires.

But the gathering also highlighted problems the LDP faces under its current coalition with the Liberal Party and New Komeito, which Obuchi said was ``the best possible way to seek political stability.''

One difficulty is the opposition of some religious groups to the LDP's ties with New Komeito, which is exclusively supported by Soka Gakkai, the nation's largest lay Buddhist group.

These groups, which have traditionally supported LDP politicians in the past, did not send representatives to today's convention in protest over what they call ``the LDP's betrayal.''

``We received an invitation from the LDP, but we decided not to send our representative because New Komeito is backed by Soka Gakkai,'' said an official of Rissho Koseikai, a Buddhist organization hostile to Soka Gakkai.

Rissho Koseikai says it is inconsistent for the LDP to form a coalition with New Komeito simply to guarantee a majority in both Diet chambers. The ruling party once severely criticized Soka Gakkai's involvement in politics.

Rissho Koseikai supported the election campaigns of 231 of the 375 incumbent LDP lawmakers. However, the Rissho Koseikai official said the group's support for LDP members in the next Lower House race will be strictly conditional.

``We will decide whether or not to support each of the LDP candidates depending on how they view the Soka Gakkai issue,'' he said.

At the LDP convention, party leaders said the party also must win other upcoming key votes, including the Feb. 6 Osaka governor's race. Official campaigning for the race starts Thursday.

But a religious source in Osaka said criticism of the LDP leadership will affect the Osaka vote. The Osaka prefectural chapter of the LDP has insisted on fielding its own candidate, even though the party's national headquarters supports a different candidate who is backed by both ruling and opposition forces.

``Many religious groups in Osaka-except Soka Gakkai-are leaning toward supporting the Osaka chapter-backed candidate because they basically oppose anything proposed by the LDP's national leadership, which promoted the coalition with New Komeito,'' the source said.

Among guests invited to the convention was Liberal Party head Ichiro Ozawa, who holds the key to stability of Obuchi's regime. Ozawa told the convention that more structural reforms must be carried out to pave the way for a brighter future for Japan beyond the turn of the century.

Ozawa last month set early passage of a controversial bill aimed at eliminating 20 Lower House seats as a condition for his party to remain in the coalition.

But differing opinions in both the ruling and opposition ensure that there is no guarantee the bill will be passed at the beginning of the regular Diet session that begins Thursday.

``We will demand the passage of the bill as promised,'' said Liberal Party Secretary-General Hirohisa Fujii on Tuesday.

Obuchi also told the convention that ``appropriate economic measures'' must be maintained, in an attempt to justify his expansionary budgets aimed at economic recovery.

But these budgets have also been a target of criticism-even from within the party.

Former LDP Secretary-General Koichi Kato said Tuesday that he would oppose the issuance of massive government bonds to finance economic-recovery projects.

``It is time we informed (the voters) of the seriousness of the accumulated debts that the governments holds,'' Kato said in a speech in Tokyo.

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Joyu says founder a god no more

Asahi Shimbun

YOKOHAMA-Fumihiro Joyu, Aum Shinrikyo's charismatic former spokesman, said Tuesday he no longer considers cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto a god.

In an interview with Asahi Shimbun, Joyu said his mind is now independent of, but has not parted with, Matsumoto, who is also known as Shoko Asahara.

However, Joyu still referred to Matsumoto as sonshi (holy guru), a title of respect.

Joyu, 37, the No. 2 leader in Aum's hierarchy, was released from prison on Dec. 29 after serving a three-year prison term for perjury.

At the cult's branch in Yokohama's Naka Ward, Joyu appeared in a gray suit and sat in front of an altar for the interview.

He spoke calmly, compared to his previous rapid-fire style of speech.

Q: The cult announced that Matsumoto may have been involved in a series of crimes. What do you think?

A: I myself believe that he was involved. I was never told anything from sonshi, but I assumed so from the testimonies of my friends at court hearings.

Q: Do you still believe in Matsumoto?

A: My feelings changed when I was imprisoned. We had considered Asahara-sonshi a god because he was a savior according to the doctrines of his prophecies. The prophecies should have become real in 1997 and 1999, but we are now in 2000.

I no longer feel that I can rely on sonshi. That's why we can now make a total reform.

Q: But do Aum followers still believe in Matsumoto?

A: The arrest of sonshi worked as a denial in considering him a god. He is no longer in our group, and his words in court are difficult to understand. I do not think there are still followers who really believe he is a god.

Q: You call Matsumoto ``sonshi.'' Have you really parted with him?

A: I have become independent, but have not parted with him. I call him sonshi because I respect him as a meditator (and not as a god).

Q: After the crimes, you were the cult's emergency headquarters chief. Why did you talk about things that were not true?

A: I wanted to protect our organization rather than investigating the true facts, so we did not investigate ourselves. I do not intend to hide from that responsibility.

Q: Why is Aum reorganizing instead of ceasing its activities?

A: If we dissolved our group we would be accused of trying to avoid the newly enacted (anti-Aum) law and the compensation we must pay.

There are still followers who think the crimes were not good but want to continue their practices of Aum's yoga. So we intend to restart with refreshed minds.

Q: Aum said the new organization will be operated by a board of about 10 members. Where do you fit in?

A: I will not be involved directly. My role will be to advise when consulted. In the former Aum, those who were in the high religious stages had the supreme authority and the absolute power. This may have been the background of the crimes. So I want to provide a key to make the organization more democratic.

Q: Considering your previous position in the cult, aren't you going to play a virtual leadership role?

A: I returned my status of seitaishi (Aum's second-highest stage) as a symbol of decentralizing power. It was not simply for show.

Now is not the time when we can seek something `of sonshi, by sonshi, for sonshi.' The new organization should not have its power concentrated in one leader. It should be a group `of us, by us, for us.'''

Q: What about the many people who do not trust what you say?

A: There may be those who cannot trust me, but I have to do things, such as making compensation.

Q: Are you going to stay in the Yokohama branch?

A: I don't intend to live here. But I also do not want to take along the fuss (surrounding me) to where I move. I want to ask people's understanding.

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Repeat exam questions OK'd

Asahi Shimbun

The Ministry of Education said it will allow use of previously submitted questions at future national center tests for university admissions.

The ministry made its decision after university officials stressed difficulty in coming up with new test questions every year.

The recycling of exam questions had been largely approved by the Central Education Council in December. The new policy could be in effect as early as 2003.

The University Entrance Examination Center plans to analyze secondary entrance exams of national and public colleges, and admissions tests of private institutions.

Each school will be able to decide when and which questions to use.

The entrance examination center will form a research team to oversee the changes, officials said.

Questions in common exams between 1979-89-and the national center tests since 1990-will be ranked in order of difficulty, based on the number of students who answered them correctly.

Questions deemed appropriate for use after analysis will be reused.

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Trash arrest near

Asahi Shimbun

Police plan to arrest the president of an industrial waste disposal company that is suspected of having illegally exported medical waste and unrecyclable trash to the Philippines, sources said today.

Police, who are searching the transport containers of the waste that were sent back last week, will seek charges of unauthorized exports against Hiromi Ito, president of Nisso Ltd., based in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture.

He is suspected of violating the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law.

About 50 investigators from the Tochigi and Nagano prefectural police offices this morning searched for evidence at a waste disposal facility in Tokyo's Ota Ward, where the exported trash is stored. It was sent back from Manila on Jan. 11.

Ito allegedly exported about 2,700 tons of trash, including dangerous waste materials from medical institutions, last year without obtaining approval by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The company had falsely reported that the garbage was used paper.

Authorities have been searching for Ito, who is also on the wanted list of the Nagano prefectural police for suspected violations of the Wastes Disposal and Public Cleaning Law in a separate case.

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Theater missile defense threatens to set off arms race


AAN guest researcher Professor, Law Faculty University of Tokyo

The Japanese and U.S. governments started joint technological research of ballistic missile defense in 1999. This study is claimed to be a part of a defense system in response to the firing of Taepodong missiles by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) in 1998.

The development of theater missile defense (TMD) that covers Northeast Asia has thus entered a new phase.

It may be natural to plan a defense in face of an anticipated attack. But will TMD prevent missile attacks? Can Japan and the United States press North Korea to change its military strategy?

There was a similar story 30 years ago: China's nuclear weapons development and the U.S. missile defense against it.

In 1964, China successfully carried out nuclear tests. While the United States and the Soviet Union were about to enter a phase of coexistence, there was strong distrust against China. China going nuclear, therefore, set off a panicky reaction in the United States, which decided on a missile defense program amid confusion.

There was an original skepticism toward antiballistic missiles (ABMs), which were thought to be not only useless but strategically unreliable and too costly. China's nuclear tests breathed life into the program whose effectiveness remained questionable.

The result was a diplomatic disaster. The Soviet Union showed an unexpectedly strong reaction to U.S. ABM deployment. Meanwhile, China showed no reaction and concentrated on its own nuclear program. The United States could not have done worse to strain its relations with both China and the Soviet Union. Until 1972, when the United States and the Soviet Union signed the ABM treaty, the U.S.-Soviet arms race intensified.

Unlike ABMs, the TMD system has no plans to carry nuclear warheads. However, if we replace the Soviet Union with today's China and China with today's North Korea, we can see an alarming similarity with the ABM situation.

North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program and test firings of missiles caused panic in Japan. Setting China aside, TMD might be needed to defend against North Korea. The joint TMD study got off the ground amid such debate.

TMD, as a defense against North Korea, is only of a limited utility. It is impossible to completely intercept missile attacks with missiles. Therefore, TMD is not a fully effective means to defend against states that attack without fear of self-destruction. If North Korea does not really intend to attack, diplomatic negotiations will be effective. In other words, regardless of whether North Korea is aggressive or not, TMD will not be of much use.

Meanwhile, U.S.-China and Japan-China relations are expected to strain even though talks continue. To break through a missile defense network, China may enhance missile deployment or advance plans to outfit missiles with multiple nuclear warheads.

Just as deployment of antiballistic missiles stimulated the Soviet Union to start a new nuclear weapons development program, TMD deployment may provoke China to do the same.

Some say that while TMD may be useless, it may be a useful tool of diplomatic negotiations. They reason that even though the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as the Star Wars project, was impractical despite its enormous research cost, it was useful to push the Soviet Union into concession in U.S.-Soviet summit talks.

By the same token, they say, TMD can also be used to obtain Chinese concessions. That is doubtful.

SDI led to the Soviet compromise because the Soviets responded, with the initiative of Mikhail Gorbachev's administration. We cannot expect the same reaction from a different government of a different country particularly when it has had time to learn from precedents.

If Japan and the United States use TMD to threaten China, it is possible that the Chinese leadership will stiffen its foreign policy rather than soften it.

Not only does TMD cost a huge sum of money but it could also set off an arms race that could seriously affect foreign relations. We must not repeat the same folly of 30 years ago.


Theater Missile Defense

A technology that the United States is studying and developing to intercept ballistic missiles with missiles. It is aimed at protecting forward deployed U.S. forces and allies. The United States is also studying a national missile defense to shoot down long-range missiles that reach the U.S. mainland. However, because of technical difficulties, its reliability as a defense system remains unknown. Japan entered a joint technological research project with the United States but will separately decide whether to move on the next stage of development and deployment.

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Shroud of secrecy undermines Japan-U.S. defense partnership


AAN senior researcher Asahi Shimbun political news writer

The year 2000 marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the current Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. During those 40 years, the bilateral alliance has played a significant role in the security of Japan and the region.

On the other hand, aspects of the alliance remain shrouded in secrecy, and this lack of transparency could potentially undermine the equality of the two partners in the alliance.

The 1996 Japan-U.S. joint declaration on security mandated the strengthening of the alliance into the 21st century and the maintenance of some 100,000 forward-deployed U.S. troops, and affirmed that the treaty would cover areas surrounding Japan.

Ever since the treaty was concluded, however, it has in reality always had a hidden side concerning emergencies on the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore, while Japan has maintained the three principles of not making, possessing or bringing into its territory nuclear weapons, there has long been a double standard concerning the third principle. Both of these discrepancies are due to secret agreements between the two governments.

Articles 5 and 6 of the security treaty form a pair. In the event Japan is attacked by force, the United States will act jointly with Japan to deal with the situation. In return, Japan provides military bases to the United States for the maintenance of peace in the Far East.

One must remember the circumstances of the two countries four decades ago, when they concluded the treaty: Japan desperately wanted to regain its footing as an independent state and overcome the subordinate status it was forced to accept after being occupied by Allied forces. The United States, on the other hand, was intent on protecting the rights it had acquired during the occupation. Thus the two sides seemed to be fiercely at odds over the signing of the treaty.

As a result of negotiations, the two countries agreed to hold consultations prior to any one of three eventualities: major changes in the deployment into Japan of U.S. armed forces, major changes in their equipment and the use of facilities and areas as bases for military combat operations.

However, documents show that agreements were reached behind the scenes on Jan. 6, 1960, just before the conclusion of the treaty, between then Foreign Minister Aiichiro Fujiyama and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Douglas MacArthur II.

The first of these documents is ``The Minutes of a Preparatory Meeting of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee,'' in which the two sides secretly agreed to forgo prior consultations in the event U.N. forces in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) are attacked and U.S. forces stationed in Japan take part in combat operations under the unified command of the U.N. forces. In other words, they agreed that U.S. troops stationed in Japan could freely go into action from bases in Japan to deal with an emergency on the Korean Peninsula.

The second document is ``Record of Discussion'' between Japanese and U.S. negotiators concerning which circumstances require prior consultations and which do not. Two of the four points that the two sides agreed on concerned the introduction of nuclear weapons as follows: 1) ``Major changes in their equipment'' is understood to mean the introduction into Japan of nuclear weapons, including intermediate and long-range missiles as well as the construction of bases for such weapons, and will not, for example, mean the introduction of non-nuclear weapons including short-range missiles without nuclear components and 2) ``Prior consultation'' will not be interpreted as affecting present procedures regarding the deployment of U.S. armed forces and their equipment into Japan and those for the entry of U.S. military aircraft and the entry into Japanese waters and ports by U.S. naval vessels, except in the case of major changes in the deployment into Japan of U.S. armed forces.

Tokyo has always maintained that one of its three non-nuclear principles-not bringing nuclear weapons into Japan-also applies to the passage and arrival at Japanese territorial waters, airspace and ports of aircraft and warships carrying nuclear weapons. But it appears the government was only paying lip service to this ideal.

Actually, the U.S. side distinguished ``introduction,'' which means installing and storing nuclear weapons on Japanese soil, from ``transit'' and ``entry,'' which mean passage and port calls. The latter had practically become routine.

A telegram that U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer sent to the State Department has also come to light. Reischauer met Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira at the ambassador's residence on the morning of April 4, 1963, and showed him the Record of Discussion concerning prior consultations. Reischauer pointed out that the government's explanation of the matter in the Diet differed from the understanding reached between Japan and the United States at the time of the treaty negotiations.

According to Reischauer's telegram, Ohira replied: ``While Japanese had not in past used mochikomu with consciousness of this restricted sense, they would so use it in future. According to the Japanese government's official explanation, the Japanese word mochikomu can mean all of the following: introduction to Japanese soil, entry to ports and passage through territorial waters and airspace.

Free use of Japanese bases to deal with emergencies on the Korean Peninsula and bringing in nuclear weapons are both secret arrangements that could expose the Japanese people to danger should an emergency occur.

Masaaki Gabe, a University of the Ryukyus professor who is trying to uncover the truth by carefully studying declassified U.S. official documents, said, ``Without the Japanese people's support, based on transparent relations in accordance with a treaty, true crisis management cannot be carried out.''

The third and last installment will appear on Friday.

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Official security dialogue among U.S., China and Japan crucial


AAN guest researcher Associate professor, Law Faculty Rikkyo University

The relationship among Japan, China and the United States is the key to the future of security in Northeast Asia. The United States has a pact with Japan for maintaining the forward deployment of its armed forces.

China, on the other hand, is pursuing a policy of ``building a wealthy nation with a strong army'' by importing military technology mainly from Russia, while following its principle of non-alliance with any other nation.

It would be rather precipitate to assume any deepening of disharmony between the United States and Japan on one side and China on the other. Both Japan and the United States are in favor of engaging China into the global community, while China's primary objective in the areas of defense and foreign policy is to secure a peaceful external environment that would help its own economic development.

However, territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are still unresolved. China's nationalism and suspicion toward Japan and the United States have been heightened by such factors as the emergence of a new NATO strategy that values human rights above the sovereignty of surrounding nations, the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, the reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the start of joint Japan-U.S. research on theater missile defense.

The current focal issue is the future of Taiwan, which has achieved economic development and is in the process of democratization. The tension and the arms race between China and Taiwan are rooted in a mutual perception gap.

China believes that the dream of the nation to reunify Taiwan remains unfulfilled because of U.S. interference, and is becoming increasingly apprehensive over an upsurge of Taiwanese identity.

Taiwan, on the other hand, is growing anxious over Washington's ``three nos'' policy and its insistence that Taiwan should hold political dialogue with China. In demanding an equal status for Taiwan and China, Taiwanese President Lee Tenghui said that theirs was a ``special state-to-state relationship.''

To stabilize the Japan-China-U.S. relationship, it is absolutely necessary to stabilize the bilateral relationships that form the three sides of the triangle-between Japan and China, between the United States and China, and between Japan and China.

While keeping the Japan-U.S. alliance intact, the partners should also be aware of the possibility that they may not share the same view on what constitutes the ``situations in surrounding areas'' in their defense cooperation guidelines.

Even though the United States and China have laid the foundations for regular summit talks based on their strategic partnership, their relationship has repeatedly soured and improved in turns. Now that the United States is the world's only superpower, Congress, in particular, should try its hardest to understand and accept the fact that China is still a developing nation. Simply branding China as the ``bad guy'' will do far more harm than good.

While both the United States and Japan should keep persuading China to resolve the Taiwan problem peacefully, they should not support Taiwan's independence. It is only natural to expand exchanges with Taiwan on practical affairs as necessary, and treat the Taiwanese equally with the industrialized nations on matters such as the issuing of visas.

Economic exchanges between Japan and China are growing constantly, but the two nations still need to close their perception gap on modern and contemporary history through more thorough education. However, the security issue constitutes the greatest cause of their mutual distrust.

Japan should stick to its ``defense only'' policy and maintain the stance of never resorting to the use of armed force in East Asian politics. China, on the other hand, should accept Japan's political role and willingly agree to defense-related exchanges that will help foster mutual trust.

One idea is to exchange their experiences in U.N. peacekeeping operations, and introduce them to the public through the mass media.

Once such bilateral relations have been established, the next step is to activate a multilateral security dialogue that revolves around Japan, China and the United States. So-called track 2 security talks, underwritten by the governments of the three nations, began in 1998.

In the last three sessions, the participants have discussed issues including the situation on the Korean Peninsula. It is to be hoped that groundwork will be laid in the days ahead to elevate those talks to the track one status. China claims it is still premature to do so, but the United States is eager to get going. And sometime down the road, after further progress in the Japan-Russia relations, Russia is expected to join in the talks.

In proceeding with such multilayered, multilateral dialogue, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) will become one of the key nations. Because South Korea was as much a victim of Japanese aggression in the past as China, China should find it easier to hold dialogue with Japan if South Korea also participates. In that sense, it was good that the first Japan-China-South Korea summit meeting was held in Manila last November.

Hopefully, the deepening of ties among those three nations will go hand-in-hand with the improvement of Japan's relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the end of the latter's isolation from the global community.


``Three Nos'' Policy

This is the policy toward Taiwan announced by President Bill Clinton during his visit to China in June 1998. Specifically, the United States is opposed to Taiwan's independence, the notion of ``one China'' or ``one Taiwan,'' and Taiwan's joining any international organ whose membership consists of sovereign nations.

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Musoyama must now play catch-up

Asahi Evening News

Physical, forward-driving momentum is a key to sumo. And at the New Year's Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, yokozuna Akebono has been full of so much of it, he has been just about invincible.

But another kind of momentum-the psychological kind-can be equally important.

Before his bout on Tuesday against Tochiazuma, Musoyama looked like he might well be on his way to his first-ever tournament championship. Although he had lost early on to Akebono, he had beaten all his other opponents, including ozeki Chiyotaikai and yokozuna Takanohana. He seemed to be gathering steam.

The physical momentum Akebono used to dominate the first week of the tournament appeared to be weakening in the face of the mental momentum Musoyama's winning streak was creating. With Akebono's loss and Musoyama's win Monday, the two were tied for the lead with one defeat apiece.

But that was before Musoyama's moment of truth.

Tochiazuma is a tough opponent. He is one of the most solid wrestlers in the ring today, though not necessarily one of the flashiest. He is also a particularly difficult opponent for Musoyama,who had only won twice in the nine bouts they had fought before Tuesday.

Normally, that would make Tochiazuma the favorite. But Musoyama was on a roll, and could be expected to come through with more of a fight than usual. Or so it seemed.

Tochiazuma, 5-4 going into the bout, came out faster and stronger at the face-off. So strong was his initial burst that Musoyama appeared to be caught by surprise. He was low, which is good,but looked disoriented. As he tried to dig in, his foot slipped.From then on, he was on the defensive, unable to either drive or grapple. Although he held on valiantly, Tochiazuma threw him convincingly for a well-earned win.

So, once again, Musoyama must play catch-up. He may still be able to pull it off, but his momentum has been lost. He has proven himself vulnerable, and now must undo the damage.

Akebono, meanwhile, took the opportunity Tuesday to prove that his loss the day before was not fatal. In the ring with the yokozuna, Kotonishiki looked like he was fighting for his life. He was totally overwhelmed, and seemed more intent on avoiding injury than mounting any kind of an attack.

With two-thirds of the tournament now over, today's bouts will mark the beginning of the homestretch. Akebono, the sole leader going into today's bout, now probably has both the mental and physical momentum on his side, and must try to keep flying high as he meets Takanohana, the ozeki duo and Tochiazuma in the days ahead.

Musoyama has an easier schedule, having already fought against all his yokozuna and ozeki opponents (he need not fight Dejima, his stablemate). But he cannot afford to lose, either. That means he is the one under the most pressure.

How he will handle it remains the basho's biggest question.

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POINT OF VIEW: Constitution panels should spell out agenda

Yoichi Higuchi

Special to Asahi Shimbun

In what I consider to be a watershed political event, the Diet is set to create Constitution research councils when it convenes later this month. The panels represent the success of lawmakers who have eagerly been advocating amending the Constitution and are a giant step toward realizing that goal.

But the law by which the councils are to be brought into being calls for ``broad and comprehensive research.'' This mandate requires them to operate in such a way that will be convincing to even those whose political views are different from those of the pro-amendment politicians.

Diverse grounds have been cited for constitutional revision. Some say that a constitution that did not fit the country's circumstances was forced on Japan as a result of its defeat in World War II. Others contend that the time has come to make some changes in the Constitution, which has been in place for 50 years. Still, others advocate changes that would fill the gap between current practice and the Constitution's pacifist ideals.

I am a person of different persuasion, and I increasingly recognize the need to say the same things repeatedly against constitutional revision. I do not approve even the establishment of Constitution research councils in the Diet because I believe that constitutional debate should be quietly conducted by the existing parliamentary committees, whose task will be to see if the reality in various aspects of the people's lives calls for constitutional amendment.

First, the trouble with the new councils is that their creation is politically motivated. If so, their members and the parties to which they belong should make clear in all sincerity what are their political agendas.

The panels cannot conduct research without an agenda. In the first place, the selection of an agenda will depend on what they intend to accomplish.

What agendas do other Group of Eight advanced countries have? Britain's is the reform of the royal household. Germany has abolished lineage as the basis for granting nationality in favor of a standard based on birthplaces, a measure that has increased its population by several millions at one stroke.

While granting same-sex couples a legal status close to that of families, France has adopted a principle mandating the appointment of an equal number of men and women to elective public offices.

In many European countries, arguments that Nazi atrocities did not happen and making discriminatory statements in public are banned. But the propriety of such bans has been the subject of long-standing discussion.

Whatever the agenda of the Constitution research councils, they should focus on whether the present Constitution will obstruct its realization. Only when they operate this way, will it become possible to carry out debate in a manner free from pressure that is liable to mount once a direction is set.

If the pro-amendment lawmakers want to drop or change the war-renouncing Article 9, what do they aspire to accomplish through the move?

The most popular justification cited by governments around the world now for use of force is ``intervention to protect human rights and for humanitarian reasons.'' If these politicians want to follow suit through constitutional amendment, what attitude would they intend to take toward the Asian countries where dictatorial rule continues?

Secondly, the councils should remember that their job is research and it should be based on facts. An assessment of how the world will change when a certain agenda is translated into reality falls under the category of research defined this way. And what is essential in making such an assessment is to look at what modern Japan has been doing and to know the meaning of what is currently taking place around the world.

The members of the Constitution research councils will be apportioned in accordance with the seats held by the various parties. But a rule of majority decision on matters of research will be incompatible with the nature of their task. At least, the members should be freed from the official positions taken by their parties to enable them to vote as they please.

Giving the members such freedom is particularly important at a time when views on constitutional amendment crosses party lines.

Thirdly, the councils should proceed with the understanding that parliamentary debate is different from academic debate. The arguments advanced in and outside academic circles at home and abroad are truly wide-ranging, including those casting doubt on the very frameworks of modern law and even on the sublimity of human rights.

Doubters of human rights contend that the concept may denote the arrogance of modern man in seeing the world as revolving around human beings.

But for politicians, the Constitution works as a rule restraining their use of power. Elements common to the Constitutions of various countries are what the human society has yielded from its long history.

So the anxiety of politicians to be free from the constraint of such rules has often taken the form of arguments attempting to condemn them as ``obsolete.''

The government's Constitution research council made such an attempt in its final report it presented 36 years ago. ``The present Constitution, based on the 18th- and 19th-century-style liberalism, is outmoded as a basic law,'' said the final report in which the council listed conflicting views and did not draw its conclusion.

A preceding attempt had been made 110 years ago in the year when the Meiji Imperial Constitution went into effect. The Constitution was interpreted as an effort to restrain the power of the emperor, but Yatsuka Hozumi, the leading constitutional scholar of the time, argued that the theory of constitutional monarchy was obsolete, saying: ``This theory prevailed in continental Europe 40 to 50 years ago.''

For approximately seven years, the nation was caught up in nominal political reforms, with reformers condemning those who balked as ``old guards.'' We should guard against the same folly being committed by the new Constitution research councils.

The author is a professor of constitutional study at Sophia University.

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VOX POPULI, VOX DEI: Kusatsu residents get their money's worth

The computer age seems to be bringing new kinds of currency into circulation.

One such currency, ``oumi,'' was created last year by members of the secretariat of a self-governed citizens' community support center in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture. Oumi was the name by which the region was known in the olden days.

With an ``exchange rate'' of 1 oumi to 100 yen, the notes come in denominations of one, five and 10. Transactions can be conducted electronically on personal computers.

People wishing to use this currency are required to register with the secretariat what services they can offer to or seek from the community. Some examples include: ``I can baby-sit,'' ``I can be a companion to lonely senior citizens,'' ``If you have any home-cooked dishes to spare, I'd like some,'' and ``Help wanted for making fliers.''

When parties complete their deal, oumi is to make the settlement.

The difference between yen and oumi extends beyond the latter's limited circulation. Hiroshi Uchiyama, 28, a member of the secretariat, explains that offering one's service is tantamount to making the community ``owe'' one something. But, Uchiyama adds, one can also start with being ``indebted'' to the community by seeking service.

Users need no ``capital'' to function in this particular kind of economy. To put it another way, it is each individual who issues the currency as needed, not the central bank.

Another difference between yen and oumi, says Uchiyama, is that this local currency does not generate any interest. Since this is the case, there is no point in saving it; one should just spend it freely.

Also unique to this currency system is that no prices are quoted on the list of services offered and sought. It is for the recipient of the service, not the giver, to determine the price according to the level of his or her own appreciation. In this sense, the system functions on ``social responsibility'' rather than financial credibility.

And last but not least, notes Uchiyama, the oumi economy is never in danger of bloating itself into a bubble because there are no speculative investments. People participate in this economy, not to make money, but to be active in their community.

Uchiyama says there are presently about 50 residents using this ``market with a face,'' which he hopes will develop at its own comfortable pace.

Europeans have historically encouraged the use of local currencies as a way of securing cultural diversity and protecting their regional economies from the threats of ``strong money'' on the global monetary market. Such a spirit must be conducive to enhancing the quality of democracy.

The oumi currency seems certainly more promising than the proposed 2,000-yen note.

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EDITORIAL: Japan-U.S. Security Treaty should entail frank expression

To relocate the facilities of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, the prefectural government of Okinawa and the municipal government in Nago, the candidate site for relocation, are pressing for a 15-year limit on use of the alternative military facility. Anticipating that the United States would refuse, however, the central government is apparently not eager to pursue earnest negotiation of the issue.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in January 1960 by Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi and U.S. Secretary of State Christian Herter. The treaty came into effect in June that year.

The treaty replaced an earlier pact signed by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1951 at the San Francisco peace conference, representing Japan's return, after the war, to the international community. The new treaty specifically referred to the U.S. obligation to defend Japan and authorized U.S. use of military bases in Japan.

Bilateral security arrangements that came into being during the Cold War have withstood 40 years, into the last year of the 20th century. What changes will the next century bring? Developments in the years to come will be crucial not only to the course taken by Japan but to the cause of peace and political stability in Asia and the Pacific region.

In the years since World War II, Japan's security has been built upon the two pillars of the Constitution and the security arrangement with the United States. Together, the arrangement can be seen as having been a factor in Japan's economic development and regional stability, although it has sometimes been difficult to bring it into harmony with the Constitution.

Pragmatic relationship

The central intent of the security treaty was to establish a joint Japan-U.S. effort to counter the military threat posed by the Soviet Union. It should be kept in mind, however, that Japan's neighbors have seen the treaty as a ``cork in the bottle,'' through which the United States prevents Japan from returning to the path of being a military power.

Overall, the nations of Asia and the Pacific region welcome the presence of American troops even since the end of the Cold War. That is partly explained by the fact that nations of the region have yet to come up with an effective alternative to prevent or resolve armed regional conflict.

India and Pakistan flex their nuclear muscles as they square off against each other; suspicion lingers about whether the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) might be pursuing a nuclear development program; China, increasingly influential in Asia, is being perceived as a threat to its neighbors.

Even so, it is not wise for Japan to drift from the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the ``defensive defense'' framework to go its own way in military matters. Even if Japan were to limit its military strength, military self-reliance could arouse suspicion in the United States and among Japan's neighbors in Asia.

Japan should maintain the present security arrangement with the United States while supporting the U.S. military involvement in the region and ensuring that the administration of the arrangement does not add to regional tension. Japan should also eagerly support confidence-building and the pursuit of regional disarmament, and lead the establishment of a loose, multilateral regional security system for the region that would include China and Russia. For now, this is the most realistic approach to regional security.

Independent approach

Ten years is ample. Looking back, however, we find that at no time in history has Japan's security policy changed as radically as it did in the past decade, with the end of the Cold War. The Persian Gulf crisis of 1990 called attention to the role Japan should have in dealing with regional conflicts. In 1992, the international peace cooperation law was passed and a contingent from the Self-Defense Forces was sent abroad for the first time to be part of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cambodia.

Questions arose in 1994 over the perception gap between Japan and the United States over suspicions that North Korea might be developing nuclear weapons, and over the tensions that flared between China and Taiwan in 1995. The chronic economic friction between Japan and the United States and the public outrage at the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by three American servicemen in Okinawa gave security officials of both governments reason for increasing concern that the alliance was ``adrift.''

Such concerns led to a redefinition of the bilateral security arrangement, reaffirming the importance of the alliance, and led to a joint security declaration by Japan and the United States. Laws supporting implementation of the new security guidelines put the relationship into specific terms.

It is natural that nations should prepare for crisis. But Japan should never clamor about a ``threat'' and seek boundless expansion of military cooperation with the United States. The new defense legislation emphasizes support for U.S. troops through central and local government entities, the Self-Defense Forces and the private sector to carry out military operations involving emergencies in Japan's periphery-although that remains a vague, ill-defined concept. Such cooperation almost represents revision of the Security Treaty, which was originally intended to serve the cause of peace and security in Japan and the Far East.

The U.S. military mission extends not only to Asia and the Pacific, but also to the Middle East and Africa. We have repeatedly pointed out that expansion of the role of the Self-Defense Forces in support of U.S. troops could infringe upon the Constitution, which prohibits extension of force abroad. It is distasteful to realize that we cannot dispel the apprehension that we could be simply dragged into a decision made by the United States.

If a situation were to escalate tensions between China and Taiwan into armed conflict, the Japanese government would have to make every diplomatic effort to avert a clash. Japan should explain to the United States that it values its relationship with China and should urge the Americans to avoid hasty military action.

Forthright expression

Japan must now have the courage to say directly what needs to be said to the Americans and establish a firm yet flexible bargaining capability.

To relocate the facilities of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, the prefectural government of Okinawa and the municipal government in Nago, the candidate site for relocation, are pressing for a 15-year limit on use of the alternative military facility. Anticipating that the United States would refuse, however, the central government is apparently not eager to pursue earnest negotiation of the issue.

Japan has spent about 500 billion yen a year-more than 10 percent of its defense budget-to pay for the U.S. military presence in Japan. The tab includes the cost of heating and water for the families of American troops, and the U.S. government admits Japan is its most generous ally. With the financial position of the two governments now reversed, it is not surprising that there is an effort to curb expenditures from the national treasury to ease the taxpayers' burden.

Japan has complied with a U.S. request for review every five years of the special supplemental accord to the Status of Forces Agreement that addresses financial arrangements. Is it appropriate to simply continue this convention? The government should review it by comparing similar arrangements in other countries.

Paying too much attention to the Americans can distort the public's feelings about the United States and could ultimately impair the bilateral relationship. Japanese government officials often say that support for reduction or withdrawal of U.S. troops from Japan damages the bilateral alliance. But is that really so?

U.S. policy changes with time. The official U.S. position is that a troop strength of 100,000 in Asia and the Pacific will be maintained. But it is by no means rare that people with influence in the administration, the U.S. Congress or the military are prepared to reduce or withdraw American troops from foreign countries. The Americans are capable of surprisingly radical policy changes if seen to be in the interest of the United States.

There is no merit in Japan's government simply trying to win points with the Americans. We should be firmly aware that a genuine partnership is strengthened by speaking frankly, without fear of causing friction.

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