(Saw this on Tuesday, July 1st - not exactly finished thought, but wanted to post because of timeliness)
I was VERY fortunate to turn on NHZ channel today in a desperate attempt to find some sort of television programming while eating lunch to find Shinzo Abe announcing the reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. My jaw hit the floor.
The reinterpretation aligns with what the Japanese government feels is an escalating situation in the Eastern Asian region. With island disputes, abductions, and China’s rising military (on top of North Korea’s ever-present threat), Abe feels it important not only to be able to aid allies in the region and abroad but to also strengthen defensive capabilities at home. Abe and Japanese officials reiterate that this is not about becoming an offensive military power but more to enhance defense. It will still abide by much of the spirit of Article 9 in keeping Japan on a peaceful path, without belligerence.
A major issue this raises domestically is that there was no public referendum on the issue. Some Japanese citizens are quite upset that the government is making such changes without consulting the populous about what it wants. And there are still many Japanese who are not comfortable with militarism. But then again, the population wasn’t consulted when the post-WWII Japanese Constitution was drafted either.
However, repeatedly in my mind as I watched Abe speak, I repeated “What if Mishima were alive to see this?”
This is what he was arguing for towards the end of his life and what he ultimately committed seppuku for. I’m not going to get into the argument of why Mishima killed himself right now (he wanted to be a spectacle; he wanted to die [relatively] young). His STATED objective was to stage the coup at the Ichigaya Japanese Self-Defense Force Installation to rally the soldiers to get behind him and force the government to amend the Constitution, recognizing (and by extension legitimizing) the JSDF as a military force. Article 9 made any kind of force, even kept for defensive purposes, unconstitutional. And the paltry number of troops maintained would never be an actual deterrent, should another country sincerely attempt to invade. The US was the actual defense force. This was to kneecap the Japanese after WWII. China and Korea, the main victims of the Japanese war machine, were quelled somewhat by America emasculating the Japanese. The dynamic of the Chrysanthemum and the Sword was reduced to the flowery, feminine part of the culture. This is what Mishima hated. Japan was flower arranging, cuisine, and tea ceremony. The warrior spirit was obliterated by Article 9.
To legitimize the JSDF, and therefore bring masculinity back to the Japanese people, was Mishima’s aim. If he couldn’t get the soldiers, the ones most hemmed in by Article 9, to get behind him, then he couldn’t bear to see Japan’s future, the lapdogs of America. He never saw the 1980s financial powerhouse Japan became, but I don’t think that would have satisfied him. Financial power is not the same thing, especially ideologically. Bringing a country to its knees with money isn’t bushido.
What also blows my mind is that the United States is in support of this reinterpretation. “[T]he U.S. is backing whatever Japan can do to play a larger role in regional security.” THE VERY PEOPLE WHO IMPOSED ARTICLE 9 ON JAPAN ARE NOW RELIEVED TO SEE A MORE MILITARIZED JAPAN. I don't know, but maybe Mishima’s head would explode on that one. But given how much of a threat China is becoming and how Japan is one of, if not the only, places in the world that does not maintain its own standing army, as well as the overall decline of the US’s capacity to be the world’s police, there is an obvious need for Japan to do something about its situation. While I loathe Wikipedia, here’s some numbers:
OH MY GOD, I’D BE SCARED, TOO!!!
Oh, Mishima. I wish you were alive to see this.