It may be most important and urgent for Americans to be correctly informed of the conditions in Japan, especially now that the Security Treaty between the United States and Japan has been signed and put into force, placing both countries in a relation similar to that of allies. In this short article I shall state a few opinions following the dictates of my conscience. But they are merely my personal opinions, and I cannot say that they are absolutely correct.
Japan is in danger of being attacked both directly and indirectly. Although it does not say so, the treaty of alliance between Soviet Russia and China which went into effect in April, 1950, regards Japan and countries directly or indirectly in alliance with Japan as potential enemies.
In June, 1950, the North Korean Army crossed the 38th parallel and attacked South Korea. There were subsequently several changes in the fortunes of war, but by virtue of the courageous and wise strategy of the U. N. Forces under American leadership, together with the very appropriate policies of the American Government, the battle front which once retreated down to Pusan is now back near the 38th parallel, and the truce conference is going on.
Meantime Japan is, thanks to the U. N. Forces, enjoying a period of peace. We can appreciate what the U. N. Forces are doing by remembering the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. The Korean War is very closely connected with the safety of Japan, and the U. N. Forces in Korea today are performing the same service for Japan that the Japanese army performed during the Russo-Japanese War. I do not think that many Japanese appreciate this serious fact.
Soviet Russia is strongly fortified in Sakhalin, the Kurile Islands, and East Siberia. Although Russia promised to return Port Arthur and Dairen to Red China not later than the end of 1952, it is very doubtful whether she will do so. At the time the Japanese Peace Treaty was signed in San Francisco, the Soviet delegate suggested limiting the Straits of Tsushima, La Perus, Tsugaru, and Nemuro to the use of Soviet naval ships only and recommended that Japan be prohibited from fortifying the coastlines boarding on these straits. This suggestion was very significant, but the news of it did not raise any public reaction in Japan, because all military officers were purged, and the people in general were ignorant of military matters.
Most Japanese are very indifferent to the dangers of direct and indirect attack on disarmed Japan. Even intellectuals are feeling very easy because of the Security Treaty and the presence of U. S. Forces in Japan. It may be said that the nation as a whole is quite indifferent to the danger of direct invasion.
As to indirect invasion, the 1952 May Day riot and many acts of violence and disorder since then have given rise among the people to a realization of the seriousness of the situation, and the government is apparently planning to take some appropriate measures to prevent such disorders.
Those who take part in the riots are Communists, Koreans, and some Red students. The membership of the Communist Party is estimated at around 100,000, and the number of Koreans in Japan is placed by reliable authority at about 1,000,000, of which 100,000 or 10% are said to be cooperating with the Communists.
It is these 200,000 Communists and fellow-travellers who cause riots in many places and attack police boxes, local government offices, and courts, taking advantage of their unguarded moments.
It is these who plot discord between America and Japan by damaging U. S. cars and by demonstrating in unpleasant ways against U. S. soldiers. They demand the withdrawal of U. N. Forces from Japan, shout against rearmament, and cry for Japan’s independence—all in order to make it easier and quicker for the Reds in and outside of Japan to control the country.
The most troublesome matter is that some men of learning have embraced Marxism and stand for neutrality in diplomacy, at the same time campaigning against rearmament. Many young people are responding to this viewpoint.
The only reason we can sleep nights with no defense except a small police reserve is because we are protected by the U. S. Security Forces in Japan. Many Japanese do not realize this important fact. Red China and North Korea broadcast to the effect that a vanguard of hundreds of thousands have already landed in Japan. Truly the fifth columnists are working very actively in Japan.
It is extremely urgent that we in Japan impress our countrymen with the seriousness of the present situation in East Asia and in the world, and that we arouse a spirit of patriotism by which we may fight for independence and liberty. This is a matter on which the fate of our country depends.
The Peace Treaty and the Security Treaty are in force, and it is the duty of us Japanese nationals to keep them faithfully. By the Security Treaty Japan has an inherent right to individual and collective self-defense. Moreover, the stationing here of U. S. armed forces is temporary, and it is expected by the United States that Japan will assume the responsibility of protecting herself more and more against direct and indirect attacks from abroad. I think Premier Yoshida made a wise decision when he signed the Security Treaty in San Francisco in spite of Article 9 of our new constitution. He was aware of the tense world situation at that time.
In Japan some people think that no amendments are necessary in the constitution in order to have an army, navy, and airforce for the sake of self-defense. But generally it is believed that the constitution should be amended. It is a very difficult matter to amend the constitution, however, as it must first be passed by at least a two-thirds vote of both Houses and then the majority of the whole nation must vote for it.
Some of our countrymen, especially the women and young people, still remember the bitter history of the past and think of armaments as synonymous with war. Such people cannot understand the necessity of arms in maintaining peace in the present world. Even some high ranking politicians use such simple phrases as “butter or guns,” giving the impression that butter is the only important thing. They say nothing about peace and liberty. Premier Yoshida has repeatedly said the constitution should not be amended and rearmament should not be considered. But in spite of his statements, immediately after the breaking out of the Korean war a police reserve of 75,000 was organized, and since that time it has grown to 110,000. The coast guard is being strengthened by small vessels lent by the United States.
What confusion for the nation! The question of rearmament is always being discussed, but we seem to get nowhere. What we must do now is help the nation to understand the necessity of having armaments for self-defense and the maintenance of liberty and independence. What is more, we must develop a stronger spirit of self-help. The nation must be told that the United States will not provide the sole protection for a nation of eighty-four million able- bodied people. Consequently, the constitution should be amended. As it is now, self- defense forces are being developed on the one hand, while on the other hand, they try to tell us it is not armaments. We cannot go on with this kind of deception forever.
Naturally any armed forces which Japan can develop in this post-war period are bound to be small, but they will be strong enough to serve as an embankment to prevent to some extent the spreading of the flood. That is, they will be sufficient to subdue all riots and uprisings inside the country without recourse to help from abroad. In case of a large-scale invasion, Japan will cooperate with the United States according to the Security Treaty.
Even the above-mentioned small-scale armaments, however, cannot be realized without some American help. Japan’s shipbuilding productivity has somewhat recovered, but airplane manufacturing, as well as ammunition and weapons manufacturing, cannot be revived without an enormous amount of money. Moreover, the needed technicians are scattered and their technique is a full ten years behind the times. But we certainly must not feel discouraged. If we work hard with a definite plan, we shall be able to meet the demand in three years. All the battleships and cruisers used during the Russo-Japanese War were of foreign-make (six battleships and four cruisers were made in England, two were made in Italy, one in Germany, and one in France).
In the same way Japan must depend upon America for some time for up-to-date airplanes and other equipment. In the meantime we must endeavor to revive our munitions industry and to gather and train the necessary number of soldiers and sailors.
In my opinion, now that we have lost Sakhalin, Korea, and Formosa, it will be very hard for Japan to protect herself from a foreign invasion and from attack by air. The people in general do not realize this.
I am especially concerned about the Kurile Islands which have always been Japanese territory. The Kurile Islands affected by the 1875 Kurile-Sakhalin Exchange Treaty between Russia and Japan included only the eighteen Kurile Islands north of the Urup Straits, and had nothing to do with Yetrup, Kunashir, and Habomai Islands, which have always been Japan’s territory. At present the reversion of the Kurile Islands is not settled, and these islands are still in the hands of the Soviet. As long as this is so, the situation will be very disadvantageous not only to Japan, but also to all democratic countries.
If the North Korean army had conquered all of Korea, there would have been a Communist dagger pointing at the throat of Japan. We are extremely happy that the United Nations quickly and effectively pushed back the invaders; the success of this action proved that invasion does not pay, and also made a tremendous contribution towards the self-defense program of Japan. We thank America for her policy of maintaining the status quo of Formosa. We shudder at the thought of Korea and Formosa coming into Communist power.
Even now, after the Peace Treaty, Japan feels very insecure against attacks from the air. We must strongly emphasize air-defense consisting of airplanes and anti-aircraft equipment (radars, A A guns, etc.). Japan has little raw material, and every year imports three million tons of food and fodder and five million tons of oil (this is increasing). Japan also imports iron ore, bauxite, raw cotton, etc. If Japan should be blockaded, she would be paralyzed economically. Therefore, a navy is absolutely necessary to protect Japanese shipping, and that navy needs a strong air-force to fight against submarines and airplanes. Land force is necessary too, but modern land force need§ airplanes to a large extent.
According to the new constitution of Japan, sovereign power resides with the people. It has become the responsibility of the whole nation to maintain independence and liberty and to guarantee a living for all people. In the beginning of the occupation we suffered from a shortage of food, housing, and clothing. Conditions are much better now, although not quite up to pre-war standards. Japan owes much to the United States, and thoughtful people know this and are grateful to America.
The new constitution says the Premier must be a member of the Diet and must be chosen from among the members of the Diet. Consequently, the Premier of Japan will be chosen by a majority party, or by a coalition of parties. We talk about the mutual independence of the legislative, administrative, and judicial branches of the government. Actually, however, our system is different from that of the United States, in that the Premier backed by his majority party has great power in the Diet. Moreover, the Emperor has become little more than a symbol of state. He has only a few official responsibilities, most of his powers having been delegated to the Premier. According to democratic principles, the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces is the Premier. If some Premier should choose to abuse these tremendous powers, are there sufficient checks and balances to restrain him? This is a very serious problem for the future of Japan.
Another thing which the new constitution provides is the clause which says that the Premier and other Ministers of State must be civilians. I hear that former soldiers, although they have been deprived of their military registration, are not regarded as civilians. Therefore in Japan, neither Prime Minister Churchill, a graduate of an army academy, nor President Eisenhower, would be eligible to become a Minister of State.
In pre-war Japan, we had a system which transferred all soldiers to the first reserve when they became Ministers of State or Premier, or when they entered other than military fields. Admiral Yonai was transferred to the first reserve when he became Premier, and the same was true of General Ugaki, when he became the Governor- general of Korea.
I think it is all right if a civilian becomes the highest commander of the defense forces, but he must have some source of military knowledge (like the Security Council in the United States), and also an efficient intelligence bureau is very necessary in order to make the supreme command effective and reasonable. I think the Minister of the National Defense Ministry can be a civilian, but he must understand something about military affairs. It is all right to install civilians as chiefs of the land, sea, and air forces, but I think the chiefs of operations and other commanding officers must be military experts. In Japan the trend is rather against this idea, and there is danger that civilians might be put into these positions. It must be remembered that a graduate of the naval academy spends several years of both theoretical and practical training before he becomes a junior officer in command.
I think democracy is a fine thing in Japan. Now that sovereign power resides with the people, the people in return should make every effort to elevate themselves in all ways to the level of the people in other civilized countries. It is their duty and responsibility to toil to lift up the people and the state by the sweat of their brows. The schools of today, to our regret, are likely to become licentious, without proper discipline. Too many universities are now producing graduates who cannot get jobs and who may turn up as anti-social and disturbing elements in society.
It will take at least ten years to build decent naval and air forces in Japan, even with a definite plan and earnest endeavor on the part of the people and material help from the United States. Things move much more slowly in Japan than in America, and we have already spent two years without getting anywhere. It is my sincere desire that the United States and Japan will discuss all problems frankly along the line of the Security Treaty, in order to advance the plan of rearmament in Japan.
* The opinions or assertions in this article are the private ones of the author, and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Navy Department or the naval service at large.