When World War II ended, Japan was defeated, and her war machine was in ruins. Now, only a decade after the conclusion of that bitter struggle, Japan is being invited by her conquerors to rearm—to rebuild the military forces that formerly dominated Asia and the western Pacific. Why is Japan being encouraged in this fashion? What will be the consequences of a rebirth of Japanese military power? Is the new Japan irrevocably democratic, or may we again find ourselves facing the fleet of an island empire? Should we allow an uncontrolled rearmament of Japan, or is there a solution that will permit Japan to aid in her own defense and that of the free world without the threat of Japanese militarism to ourselves and our free neighbors in the Pacific?
These are some of the questions surrounding the proposal to rearm Japan. They are questions that must be answered, if long-term peace is to be achieved in the Pacific. Yet a discussion of these questions cannot be confined to strictly military matters. They involve our relations with Japan and our whole foreign policy in the Far East. They involve the economic realities in Japan and the rest of Asia. They also involve the crucial ideological struggle between democracy and communism. Only when viewed in such broad terms can a satisfactory answer to Japanese rearmament be obtained.
It is now well recognized that the Far East is a crucial theatre in the ideological conflict between Communism and Western democracy. If democracy is to win, we must convince the people of Asia that their national and economic aims are more likely to be achieved by non-Communist means and with the aid of the Western world. In this ideological struggle, Japan has played, and is playing, an immensely important role.
Our ideological commitment to Japan began even before her surrender in World War II. During the summer of 1945, anticipating the Japanese defeat, American policy-makers framed the basic guidance for handling defeated Japan in the United States Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan. The policy, delivered to General MacArthur on August 29, 1945, presented a three point program:
(a) Demilitarization of Japan. This first step was intended to prevent Japan from ever again disrupting the Far East by military aggression.
(b) Creation of “a peaceful and responsible government.” In practice, this meant the formation of a democratic government that would be less likely to embark on a warlike course than an authoritarian regime.
(c) Development of an economy which would “permit the peacetime requirements of the population to be met.” Again, in practice, the Japanese economy was oriented entirely toward the Western nations.
The occupation of Japan was ostensibly a nine-power joint undertaking. But right from the start it was controlled by the West and built on the objectives of the Initial Post-Surrender Policy. The United States supervised demilitarization. Western democratic institutions served as models for Japanese political developments, including the new Japanese constitution. Japanese economic recovery was fostered by American funds and tied to the Western system. Therefore, throughout all Asia, developments in postwar Japan became identified intimately with the foreign policy of the United States.
Japan has thus become a key point in the ideological struggle between our system of democracy and that of Communism. If the experiment in Japan succeeds, millions in Asia will look our way for the solution of their problems. If democracy and free enterprise cannot survive in Japan, it is doubtful that it can survive anywhere in Asia.
American policy toward Japan must, therefore, constantly recognize the overriding importance of the ideological factor. Particularly is this true of the present question of the rearmament of Japan. The inexorable march of militaristic communism in Asia—in Korea, Indochina, Tibet, Burma, Malaya—has forced a reconsideration of the basic policy of a demilitarized Japan. Japan is still the primary economic power in the Far East and the only significant source of potential military power left uncommunized in that part of the world. Despite her devastation in World War II, Japan is as far ahead of the rest of the Far East as she was before the war. Under these circumstances, can we allow Japan to contribute nothing to the defense of free Asia? And can we allow the defense of Japan herself to lie as a dead weight on our military resources?
Many students of foreign affairs believe that Japan should not be rearmed and that any other course would be incompatible with the larger objectives of the ideological struggle. Edwin A. Reischauer, in his book, The United States and Japan, is a capable spokesman for this point of view:
“We should not forget, however, that no matter how feasible it would be to make Japan our military ally, it probably could not be done without seriously endangering Japanese democracy. In view of Japan’s strong militaristic tradition and the record of recent history in which the Japanese Army played the leading role in scuttling the young and still very imperfect democratic institutions of prewar Japan, it would be too much to hope that Japan could be both a military and ideological ally. As the former she might render the United States valuable aid, if war were to come in the next few years, but she would unquestionably render a greater disservice by driving the rest of Asia away from us and presumably into the other camp. As an ideological ally, she could be of inestimable value in strengthening the cause of democracy throughout Asia. The choice to any but the narrowest of military minds should be an obvious one.”
However obvious the choice appeared to Mr. Reischauer at the time, the fact is that Japan is being pressed to rearm. The pressure is not coming from military minds. The ability of the American economy to underwrite the defense of the free world single- handedly has been questioned by political and economic experts. There is also some evidence that the American public felt that American boys were being asked to shoulder more than their share of the actual combat effort. These are among the pressures that are forcing a reconsideration of the disarmament of Japan.
The slow growth of the problem of Japanese rearmament can be measured from the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. This aggression coincided with attempts to develop a treaty of peace with Japan and complicated the efforts to end the Occupation. The Japanese Constitution, written in 1947 in anticipation of a return of sovereignty, forbade rearmament. The Japanese Peace Treaty of 1951 contained no such restrictions.
The Peace Treaty signed at San Francisco has been hailed as a treaty of reconciliation. It was the honest hope of the framers of the peace that it would be a true peace, a peace that did not contain the seeds of another war. To this end, the treaty was a remarkable pact of friendship, self-denial, and trust in a former enemy. Nowhere is trust more evident than in the portions of the treaty that dealt with Japan’s right to rearm and her right to enter into mutual aid pacts with other powers.
The treaty clauses permitting Japan to rearm were the prime target of the attacks of the Communist nations who refused to sign the treaty. At the same time, this condition was agreed to very reluctantly by several signatory nations who remembered the tremendous suffering of their peoples caused by the brutality of the Japanese in World War II. Their agreement was, in fact, a recognition of the obvious rapacity of Chinese and Russian Communism. It is certain that, despite the friendly protestations at the signing of the treaty, all nations who border upon the Pacific Ocean will watch very carefully any military development in Japan.
The tide of public opinion both here and in Japan has been turning slowly in the direction of rearmament. In Japan, Yoshida was elected the first premier under the new constitution. The constitution renounced the use of force in foreign policy, and Yoshida declared himself against rearmament.
In October, 1952, in the first general election under the new constitution, Japan returned Yoshida and his Liberal Party to power but rearmament had become a political issue. Hatoyama, founder of the Liberal Party, was elected to the Diet with more votes than any other candidate. In his campaign, Hatoyama urged that the Japanese constitution be revised to permit rearmament. Mamoru Shigemitsu, leader of the second-ranking Progressive Party, has also advocated a policy of “straight-forward” rearmament.
While Yoshida remained non-committal on rearmament, he did undertake to develop a small National Safety Force of about 100,000 men and a Coastal Safety Force consisting of a few small frigates and landing vessels. Yoshida indicated that these forces were not in violation of the constitution and were required as police forces to quell internal disorder.
Another step occurred in September, 1953, when Yoshida and Shigemitsu issued a joint statement as the leaders of the two chief political parties in Japan. The statement said, in part:
“In view of the current international situation and also the nationalistic spirit aspiring for independence now fermenting in Japan, a policy for bolstering self-defense will be manifested, and a long-term defense plan to cope with the gradual decrease of the United States security forces and to the extent the national wealth can afford will be set up.”
More recently, Hatoyama has become Premier, with Shigemitsu in his cabinet. Although there are many leftist groups in Japan who are loudly against rearmament, it appears certain that some form of rearmament will occur in Japan. What is more indeterminate is the exact nature and time-scale of the project.
Since some form of Japanese rearmament appears inevitable, it seems desirable to study the potential course of this development, if we are to avoid some of the dire consequences that have been predicted. It appears that there are a number of conditions that Japanese rearmament must meet if it is to be mutually acceptable to both Japan and the rest of the free world. These conditions are:
(1) Rearmament must be in the Japanese self-interest.
(2) Rearmament should be compatible with the pacifist language of the Japanese Constitution which renounces the use of force as an implement of foreign policy.
(3) Rearmament must be kept within the capabilities of the Japanese economy.
(4) Japanese rearmament must not be of a type that would threaten the democratic institutions of Japan.
(5) Japanese rearmament must not offer a major threat of aggression to other nations of the Pacific if Japan were to go autocratic or Communist.
(6) Japanese rearmament should not offer a propaganda theme to the Communists in Asia.
(7) Finally, Japanese rearmament must contribute in a real way to mutual defense in the Pacific.
These are the conditions that Japanese rearmament must meet. The first three conditions are “internal” conditions that must be met if the backing of the Japanese people is to be expected. The fourth condition bears on the pivotal question raised by Mr. Reischauer. The last three conditions are “external” conditions of major interest to the free world.
All of these conditions, both internal and external, can be met by a limited naval rearmament of Japan. Specifically, it is believed that the development by Japan of a navy devoted principally to antisubmarine warfare would provide the best contribution to peace in the Pacific area that could be expected.
With respect to the first of the conditions noted above, an antisubmarine fleet is in the Japanese self-interest. The one geographical fact of greatest importance to the Japanese is that theirs is an island country. Consequently, they are, like the British, a maritime nation, dependent upon sea communications for survival. Despite intensive agriculture, Japan must import at least fifteen per cent of her food supply. In her crowded islands she has 3400 people per square mile of cropland as compared to the United States’ 270 and Russia’s 290. Japan is also lacking in many other basic resources. Before World War II she imported ten per cent of her coal requirements, 25 per cent of her lumber, nearly all of her iron ore. Imported cotton and wool fibers are essential to her vast textile industry.
All Japan has to offer on the world market is her industrial machine. By transforming imported raw materials into finished goods for export, Japan can eke out a slim margin of profit to be used to support her population. To do this Japan’s export trade must be huge. Thus sea communications are intimately bound up in the day-to-day survival of the Japanese. An additional and powerful factor is the vital character of Japanese fisheries in providing one of the staples in the Japanese diet. These considerations naturally turn Japanese public opinion seaward and toward an acceptance of the need for rebuilding the Japanese navy.
In the second instance, an antisubmarine navy is consistent with the intent of the Japanese constitution. Although Japan’s present leaders have suggested that the constitution be revised to permit rearmament, there is no indication that the Japanese people strongly favor this course. There appears to have been a real and lasting disillusionment with the use of force in foreign affairs. Here again limited naval rearmament seems to satisfy the need, especially since the building program would not emphasize large naval striking forces that could be used for aggressive purposes. If naval rearmament is tied closely to the need to defend Japanese sea communications—to guarantee the right of Japanese merchant ships and fishing vessels to sail the high seas—Japanese public opinion could be rallied in support.
The chief threat at the present time to Japanese sea communications is the Communist submarine force. Recognizing that the free world depends upon control of the seas for any joint defense actions they might take, Russia has created the largest submarine force in the world. There is no doubt that the Communists are counting upon the submarine to disrupt sea communications in the Pacific and to blackmail or starve the Japanese into submission when the need arises. Toward this end, the Russians are reported to have supplied the Chinese Communists with 28 submarines at Dairen in May, 1951. Since that time many more may be operating from Chinese bases in the south. There is, of course, a considerable concentration of Russian submarines in Siberian ports.
To meet this threat, Japan would have to develop an effective antisubmarine force capable of protecting merchant shipping and fishing fleets from depredations. Such a force would be consistent with the peaceful intentions of the new Japan since large attack carriers and similar major craft would not be included. This type of navy would best meet the third internal requirement; namely, that the Japanese economy must be capable of supporting any proposed rearmament program.
The Japanese economy is not capable of supporting a major military budget. As noted before, Japan must have a large import-export trade if it is to survive. But Japan is finding it difficult to find markets in a divided world. The large market on the Chinese mainland is presently denied her, and many of the other Pacific nations are bitterly determined not to trade with her. Some progress has been made in finding new markets. Some time ago it was announced, for example, that Japan had completed an arrangement to sell Argentina ninety million dollars worth of iron, steel, and machinery in return for an equal sum of food products annually. Nevertheless, the situation is still precarious. The end of the Korean war brought a great loss of business to Japan. New markets to take up the slack in United States military spending have not developed.
American and Japanese observers are concerned about the possibility of an economic depression in Japan. If this were to happen, it would play into the hands of Communist agitators and opponents of rearmament. Shortly before Yoshida resigned the premiership, he visited the United States with the major purpose of asking aid in solving Japan’s economic problems. There were indications in the press that he was not particularly successful in achieving this aim. It is difficult, however, to believe that this nation would permit a Japanese depression to sabotage the ideological stronghold upon which our success in the Far East so much depends.
During Yoshida’s tenure there was much unrest in the Japanese Diet. Critics of Yoshida’s policies urged expansion of trade with the Communists as a solution of the country’s economic ills. In addition, leftists have been pointing to the government’s plans to build up the defense force as an unnecessary “evil” while “people are starving.”
These pressures proved too much for Yoshida, and he resigned. On December 9, 1954, Hatoyama was elected to succeed Yoshida as Premier. Hatoyama’s choice for foreign minister was Shigemitsu. Both men favor rearmament, but, aware of the economic problems of Japan, they also propose closer trade ties with Red China and Russia. These proposals will undoubtedly receive pointed criticism in America, but they indicate the gravity of the Japanese economic situation.
Japan’s general policy toward rearmament and the rate at which significant defense power is built up depend strongly upon the effect of the defense budget on the economy of the country. It appears that Japan could buy more real defense and security by investing in an antisubmarine force designed to operate within mutual defense arrangements with other Pacific nations than in any other way. Many antisubmarine vessels can be built for the price of a large aircraft carrier or the equivalent in army divisions. The force would be relatively cheap to maintain and operate. Of course, efforts to stabilize the Japanese economy must continue, but in the meantime the positive development of a substantial antisubmarine capability appears to be within the reach of the Japanese nation.
Certainly the most crucial requirement that must be placed upon the rearmament of Japan is that it must not result in the destruction of democracy in Japan. One recalls the short-lived history of democratic institutions in prewar Japan and perhaps agrees with Reischauer that Japan cannot be both a military and an ideological ally. But even Dr. Reischauer attributes the principal responsibility for the aggressive policy that led to the recent war to the Japanese army.
A better approach would be to emphasize defense efforts which have little opportunity or traditional desire to indulge in politics or “Palace intrigue.” In this respect, the Japanese Navy has had a relatively good record. Its blue-water operations and restricted bases keep it relatively remote from the people. In a sense, the navy is less “underfoot.” Therefore, it does not force a martial atmosphere upon the nation while going about its business.
Historically, the Japanese Navy has always had a broader outlook on the world than the Japanese nation as a whole. For many years before the last war, elements of the navy made cruises to distant lands. These cruises introduced the Japanese sailor to other cultures and other ideas. Consequently, there was less tendency toward the inward-looking attitudes that bred the fanatic nationalism associated with the Japanese army. These considerations would lead one to conclude that if Japan can be rearmed to defend herself and to contribute to the defense of the Pacific area without destroying her present system of government as a result, it is likely to be accomplished through the means of limited naval rearmament.
Would the development of a strong antisubmarine force by the Japanese, capable of policing the entire western Pacific, be acceptable to the rest of the free world in the Pacific? Does limited naval rearmament meet the external conditions previously proposed? The answer appears to be yes.
It is difficult to imagine how an antisubmarine force could be utilized in anything but a defensive role. This very fact will be tremendously reassuring to the other nations of the Pacific who were Japan’s recent enemies and victims. It was through the means of the world’s third largest navy that Japan was able to dominate the western Pacific prior to World War II. During that war, control of the seas permitted Japan to transport large numbers of troops throughout the Asiatic region, even to the borders of India and Australia. Her downfall was accomplished only by the development of superior naval power which wrested from her control of the seas in that area.
There is not a nation in the Pacific, including the United States, that will soon forget that fact. The revival of Japanese military power along prewar lines will inevitably sow distrust among the other free nations of the Pacific. Old memories of Japanese aggression will revive. Fear of Japanese militarism would force the Pacific nations to regard her once more as a potential enemy. Japanese protestations of friendly intent would play little part in such reactions. As all well-schooled military men know, defense must be based upon the capabilities of a potential enemy and not on an estimate of his intentions. Therefore, it is likely that the creation of a new Japanese army and air force and the building of a navy capable of delivering these forces over ocean distances would be more disastrous for common security in the Pacific area than an undefended Japan.
Rearmament of Japan along prewar lines would also raise grave problems in the ideological struggle in the Far East. The Soviet bloc at the Japanese Peace Treaty conference were quick to adopt the thesis that the United States and Britain were preparing for a new war. The specter of Japanese militarism under “capitalistic” sponsorship is already being used as a Communist propaganda tool. Former Premier Yoshida, in replying to his critics in the Diet on December 1, 1954, said, “The Communist radios pour sugar-coated words at Japanese ears. At the same time, the Communist radios beamed at Southeast Asia tell them that Japan is being rearmed for renewed aggression under American instigation.”
We are doing nothing to counteract this propaganda, despite the fact that all the vessels that Japan has or that are proposed in her naval program are ships useful only for patrol or antisubmarine purposes. Would it not be desirable to frankly advertise the new Japanese navy as an antisubmarine force? Would it not be wise to make the free nations of Asia aware of their stake in control of the seas as the counterbalance to the immense land power of their Communist neighbors? And would it not be important to bring Japan into the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization on that basis and that basis only?
The history of the last two major wars has shown that the submarine is the crucial weapon upon which an attempt to deny the use of the seas depends. The submarine threat made British survival a touch-and-go proposition in World War II. Very early in the conflict a transfer of fifty American destroyers to Britain was essential in defeating the German submarine attacks on British sea communications. Winston Churchill, in his history, The Second World War, leaves no doubts as to his appraisal of the importance of antisubmarine warfare. He said, “The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.” In the final volume of his history he says, “It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bomb. Her defeat was certain before the first bomb fell, and was brought about by overwhelming maritime power. She had entered the war with over five and a half million tons [of shipping], later much augmented by capture and new construction, but her convoy system and escorts were inadequate and ill organized. Over eight and a half million tons of shipping were sunk, of which five million fell to submarines. We, an island Power, equally dependent on the sea, can read the lesson and understand our own fate had we failed to master the U-boats.”
Submarine development during World War II was spectacular. By the close of the war, submarine types were in existence that could defeat the best previous antisubmarine defense measures. In the past decade submarine capabilities have continued to improve so that at present submarine warfare poses a threat of the first magnitude.
Antisubmarine warfare has rightly been given a high priority by the maritime world. The greater portion of the naval budget of the United States is devoted to this task. But it is an increasingly difficult and costly business. The free nations of the Pacific must regard the preservation of their sea communications in the face of Russian submarine forces as an important and largely unsolved problem. Japanese antisubmarine efforts, if carefully nurtured, could play a powerful role in assuring that the Pacific nations, including Japan herself, could offer joint and mutual resistance to aggression.
In view of the foregoing , it is held that the development of the Japanese navy as a strong and efficient antisubmarine force is a project that should merit the support not only of the Japanese people but also of the whole free world. As a defense force, it is a single-edged weapon directed against the Russian threat to sea communications in the western Pacific. It could not easily be turned aggressively against the free world if placed in unfriendly hands.
Those who are opposed to Japanese rearmament of any sort must be reminded that a defenseless Japan remains an open invitation to Red aggression. The Communist motivation to dominate Japan is very strong. The war potential of Asia is meager. Communist China is hardly able to combat starvation among her people. She engaged in the Korean War only with massive help from Soviet Russia and at the price of famine at home. Joseph Z. Reday, in a recent article in the Proceedings, has explored the economic war potential of Asia.1 He believes that, to mobilize the war potential of the Far East (which is mostly manpower), Soviet Russia and her satellites would have to bring Japan into the communist orbit with her industrial machine intact and functioning. All actions of the Communists in Asia are being controlled by this consideration.
A Communist Japan would undoubtedly rearm rapidly at the expense of the living conditions of her people. A Red Japanese navy could once again dominate the western Pacific, with disastrous consequences to the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. This possibility cannot be tolerated. The countermeasure must be a joint and equal partnership of democratic Japan and her neighbors on moral, economic, and military planes to provide her with adequate protection against outside coercion. Japanese rearmament right now in the proper direction is preferable to the prospect of an armed Japan in the Communist camp.
A purely military solution is not the answer to lasting peace in the Far East. But military cooperation may lead the way toward cooperation on broader and more fundamental planes. The development of the Japanese navy as an antisubmarine force would be a step in the right direction.
Assuming that the development of an antisubmarine navy by Japan has merit, is it feasible? Has Japan the abilities, resources, and strategic location necessary to make an effective contribution to. joint security in this area?
The answer is clearly affirmative with respect to strategic location. Japan lies close to the major ports of the eastern Asiatic mainland. This is an important consideration today when the most effective means of control of submarine warfare lies in the ability to strike at the submarine bases and their immediate approaches.
Enclosing the Sea of Japan, the Japanese islands dominate the major Russian port of Vladivostok. To pass out into the Pacific, Russian submarines must run the Korean Strait to the south or La Perouse Strait to the north of Hokkaido. A more devious route to the north runs between Sakhalin Island and the mainland into the Sea of Okhotsk, but the distance from Wakkanai on the northern tip of Hokkaido to the mainland is less than 200 miles. Vladivostok is but 500 miles from Honshu, while the southern strait between Japan and Korea is only 100 miles wide. These distances permit effective antisubmarine operations.
To the south, the Kyushu ports of Sasebo and Nagasaki are strategically located on the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea. Shanghai is 500 miles to the west, and traffic from Dairen, Port Arthur, and Tientsin must traverse this area. Thus, the home islands of Japan are in an excellent position to conduct antisubmarine operations against the major ports of North China and Siberia.
There are some weaknesses. With the Kuriles in Russian hands, control of the Sea of Okhotsk is not adequate. Most of the Ryukyu Islands to the south are under the control of the United States. Therefore, control of the Chinese coast to the Formosan Strait is not what it was in prewar days. If Japan is to be in a position to conduct antisubmarine operations efficiently, additional bases to north and south are necessary.
This problem of adequate bases arises whenever mutual defense arrangements involve the specialization of one partner in a particular mode of warfare. The clearest example at the present time is the far-flung system of overseas air bases maintained by the United States. These leased bases on foreign soil have come about without question because the United States has undertaken within mutual defense treaties to provide massive atomic retaliation capabilities for the entire free world. If Japan were to undertake a similar role in the Pacific with respect to antisubmarine operations, a corresponding need for leased fleet bases would arise. The United States would be in a position to provide some of these bases. In the north, a base in the outer Aleutians at Attu or Kiska might be desirable. In the south, a base in the lower Ryukyus would provide the necessary coverage of the China coast from Shanghai to Foochow. To cover the South China coast, bases would be needed in Formosa and the western Philippines.
The actual conduct of antisubmarine operations along the South China coast might be entrusted to the Philippine Republie. But she would have to be supplied with the ships and munitions and trained in their use. Japanese technical leadership would be important in building defense capabilities of this type in the Philippines and more southerly countries.
As an insular industrial nation, Japan is also particularly suited to providing the material for antisubmarine warfare. She is a seafaring nation. Despite the almost complete destruction of her merchant marine during World War II, she has rapidly regained her position in world commerce. In 1953, Lloyd’s Register credited her with 1587 vessels having a total gross tonnage of 2,787,163. Her fishing fleet has grown apace.
Japan has a large reservoir of trained seamen. Her fishing vessels and coastal merchant ships can be converted quite readily to antisubmarine work. In much of the western Pacific, the functions of fishing and submarine monitoring can be combined while hostilities do not exist. Thus, training can go on without undue strain on the peacetime economy.
The professional navy must emphasize ships and aircraft designed for antisubmarine operations. The time is past when navies can be built around general purpose craft embodying all of the necessary characteristics of the type. Specialization has become the watchword. The United States Navy, for example, has found it necessary to modify or redesign the destroyer into several distinct types, each peculiar to the task of fleet screen, radar picket, air defense, air defense control, and the like. Japan, then, must specialize in a fleet particularly suited to antisubmarine work. Such a fleet would include fast surface units of destroyer and frigate type, long-range search aircraft, light aircraft carriers with composite or special hunter-killer aircraft teams, and antisubmarine submarines. Japanese shipbuilding resources are capable of fashioning a fleet of this character.
To obtain an immediate capability, the United States might provide Japan with the foundation of an interim fleet. We have a large number of escort carriers in mothballs. They are not improving with age and might be more useful in Japanese hands. Some transfers have already taken place. Japan obtained eighteen frigates and 54 small gun boats from the United States in 1953. With a clear objective in view, more important transfers might occur. In the same way, propeller-driven carrier aircraft, becoming obsolete for air combat purposes, might still have a useful life in a specialized Japanese fleet. However, such expedients would not alter the need for the gradual development of modern antisubmarine tools. The modern high-speed long-submergence submarine will require novel and ingenious countermeasures if it is to be contained.
Japan has the industrial means to produce these countermeasures. She has naval officers and specialists who have devoted their lives to the perfection of the art of torpedo and mine warfare. It is reasonable to presume that such minds can be turned to the problem of antisubmarine warfare with good effect. Japan has a capability for the production of all antisubmarine munitions with the exception of the atomic depth charge.
Another possible weakness in Japanese technology may be in electronics. Submarine detection may depend on highly developed sonar and radar equipments. Effective attack may depend upon complex computer systems. These fields have been evolving at such a rate that the Japanese, in a decade of disarmament, may have fallen behind. These weaknesses, if they exist, would require technological help from the United States and Britain.
Such weaknesses should not hide the fact that the Japanese are a mature, industrious people who have shown in recent history their ability to adopt and improve upon the technology of the West. Their marked ability to copy the best the West has to offer is well-known. Less publicized is the fact that the Japanese have been great creators, especially in naval warfare. In design concept, the large Japanese battleships, Yamato and Musas hi, contained significant technical advances. The Japanese have also displayed a superior ability to translate tactical theory into practical equipment. The development of the Japanese destroyer concept as an implement of torpedo warfare is a case in point. Ton for ton, the Japanese destroyers of World War II were the most effective fighting ships yet designed.
Given modest technological and material help at the beginning, Japan can be expected to develop a superior antisubmarine navy, perhaps superior in potential to that of any other nation. The contribution of such a navy to security in the western Pacific cannot be overestimated.
It remains to compare this proposal with the actual course of Japanese naval rearmament to date. It is not easy to get accurate information on the progress of the Japanese navy. Perhaps the most authoritative source available is Jane's Fighting Ships which states that the Japanese navy is assuming substantial proportions, with eighteen frigates and 54 gunboats acquired from the United States, and hundreds of patrol vessels, minesweepers, and smaller craft having been built in Japan. The 1954 construction program consisted of:
Two high-speed defense vessels of 1500 tons.
Three high-speed defense vessels of 700 to 1000 tons.
Six minesweepers to replace obsolete vessels.
Some high-speed patrol boats of fifty to sixty tons each.
This modest building program is indeed appropriate to the functions of fishery protection, anti-smuggling, patrol, and rescue for which Yoshida set up the Coastal Safety Force. Somewhat larger plans exist on paper. In 1951, shortly after the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty, a naval program was officially approved which aimed at a force of up to 300 destroyer-type vessels. Some of these ships were to be built in Japan and some, it was hoped, could be obtained from the United States.
Two ambitious five-year naval plans are said to be under consideration. The larger of these, Plan “A,” calls for ten 10,000-ton aircraft carriers, five 8000-ton cruisers, 100 antisubmarine destroyers, and fifty antisubmarine frigates. This amounts to a total of 165 ships aggregating 340,000 tons. Plan “B” calls for five 8000-ton cruisers, 45 antisubmarine destroyers, and 45 antisubmarine frigates, for a total of 95 ships and 148,000 tons. The latter plan is said to have the support of American naval officers.
Neither of the above plans is inconsistent with the objective of an antisubmarine fleet. In fact, it is not difficult to reach the conclusion that this objective is actually the one behind both plans. Yet the new Japanese navy is not being publicized as an antisubmarine defense force. Why is this?
Certainly one of the chief reasons is that Japanese naval rearmament is being handled as a thing apart rather than as an integral part of a larger mutual defense organization in the Pacific. Japan is not a member of SEATO. Even if she were, SEATO is, at present, too loose a confederation to form a basis for the integration of various national contributions to mutual defense.
One cannot escape the conclusion that what is needed is a Pacific version of NATO, in which joint planning is carried out and in which each member state is committed to supply specific forces according to the capabilities and strategic position of each. If this were done, the rearmament of Japan could be fitted into the requirements of the Pacific region much in the same manner as the rearmament of Western Germany is being integrated into the defensive alliance of Western Europe. When this is done, it is believed that the clear and forthright development of the Japanese navy as an antisubmarine force for the western Pacific will be a logical result.
In summary, the formation of a more adequate alliance among the free nations of the Pacific region is essential to the common security. Within such a framework, Japan should be encouraged to rearm primarily by the development of an antisubmarine force in the western Pacific. Other defense measures by Japan may be necessary (air defense, Home Guard, etc.), but these actions should be related to a wider security organization in which the total defense effort is shared by all members according to their capabilities. The development of an antisubmarine navy by Japan can be expected to be a potent and wholesome influence for peace everywhere.