No to the Revival of Japanese Militarism ! No to a Defense Agreement with Japan!

Last June 24, President Aquino visited Tokyo to throw his support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s declared plan to “reinterpret” the Japanese Constitution in order to allow the foreign deployment of Japanese military forces for so-called “collective defense” actions jointly with countries considered as Japan’s “strategic partners”.

President Aquino praised Abe’s plan to violate Japan’s pacifist Constitution as “beneficial” to the Philippines, saying that this will allow Japan to render military assistance to its allies. Clearly, Aquino was harping on his request for Japanese military assistance in confronting China’s aggressive “9-dash line” claims over parts of the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) in the West Philippine Sea.

            But even before the July 1 decision by the Abe cabinet to “reinterpret” Japan’s Constitution, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito coalition regime already laid plans for the deployment of Japanese military forces to the Philippines. In 2012, a “Statement of Intent on Defense Cooperation” was signed by then Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

In 2013, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera visited the Philippines twice in order to discuss areas of “defense cooperation”. In January of this year, Defense Vice-Minister Masanori Nishi visited Philippine defense officials to discuss Japan’s new militarist-oriented “National Security Strategy” and “National Defense Program Guidelines” which were both issued in December 2013 immediately after Abe’s assumption of the prime ministership of Japan.

            The support for Abe’s plan given by Aquino (the grandson and namesake of the wartime head of the “KALIBAPI” organization of pro-Japanese collaborators) is highly condemnable for many reasons. First of all, the violation of Japan’s pacifist Constitution opens the door to the uninhibited revival of Japanese militarism. Driven by the exploitative interests of the zaibatsus and sogo-soshas, Japanese militarism aims at strengthening Japan’s domination over a new regional “co-prosperity sphere”. The deployment of Japanese military forces outside of Japan leads to the justification of Japan’s recourse to aggression and war.

Secondly, the overwhelming majority of the Japanese working masses support the pacifist principles of their Constitution which prohibits the deployment of Japanese forces outside of Japan. In supporting Abe, Aquino went against the sentiment of the Japanese people, in the same way that he went against the interests of the Filipino people who still remember the atrocities and devastation suffered --- and the one million Filipino lives lost --- during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

            Fascist revanchism in Europe is echoed by the revival of Japanese militarism in Asia. Japanese government leaders routinely pay visits to Yasukuni shrine, where the remains of the top Japanese war criminals are interred. Japanese ruling circles, including the present Abe regime, have also added ambiguity to Japan’s responsibility for the inhuman sexual slavery of women and girls in occupied Asian countries during World War II. Around 200,000 of these “comfort women” were pressed into the “service” of the brothels of the Japanese military system, and most have died without being given justice, despite decades of efforts to claim reparations. The few survivors are still denied justice up to now --- there have been no criminal probes, no full disclosure, no unequivocal admission of responsibility, and even no acknowledgment of these heinous war crimes in Japanese school textbooks.

US imperialism and Japanese militarism are at the spearhead of the imperialist plan to create an “Asian NATO”. In Washington last July 11, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised Abe’s trampling of Japan’s pacifist Constitution, while Defense Minister Onodera assured that this will bolster Japan’s military alliance with the USA and will even allow Japanese forces to “come to the aid” of US naval ships under attack. Aquino’s enthusiasm for a defense agreement with Japan (even after forging the “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” with the USA last April) plays into this imperialist plan to harness Asia-Pacific countries into an “Asian NATO”, which will primarily be anti-China military alliance.

In forging an anti-China defense partnership with Japan, Aquino may be seen as linking the Philippine claim over its EEZ and ECS in the West Philippine Sea, with Japan’s claim over the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands. While the Philippine claim stands strong on the basis of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (as against China’s fantastic claim of historic rights starting from the Song dynasty of 960-1279 AD), this should not be linked in any way with Japan’s claim over the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands. This is because the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands rightfully belong to China, on the basis of the decisions of the Allied powers (which included the Chiang Kai-shek regime of war-time China) at the Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam summits regarding the scope of Japan’s post-war territory.

In pursuing its claim as against China’s “9-Dash Line”, the Philippines should keep away from the imperialist US-Japan military partnership, and should instead find solidarity with other ASEAN countries which are similarly defending their territorial claims on the just and lawful basis of the UNCLOS.

            For the Philippine progressive movement, Abe’s trampling of the Japanese Constitution opens new areas of struggle --- the struggle against the revival of Japanese militarism, and the struggle against the forging of a defense agreement with Japan.