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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le militarisme nippon au secours de Washington

by Michel Muller

Japanese Militarism Comes to Washington’s Rescue

Translated Saturday 27 January 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

NATO. The new Japanese head of state arrives in Europe, concerned with promoting a partnership with NATO, whose job will become openly global.

The new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is to arrive in London today, on the first stage of a trip which will then take him to Berlin, to the seat of NATO in Brussels, and to Paris. The conservative and nationalist head of the Japanese government is making these visits three months after having come to power. Apparently, Shinzo Abe is breaking one of the rules of the protocol of traditional Japanese submission to the US – to which Japan is linked by a strategic alliance – by visiting Europe before heading to Washington to confirm his allegiance to the US administration. In reality, as the two capitals have confirmed, this is not the case.

Indeed, the high point of Shinzo Abe’s European tour will be on Friday when he speaks to the NATO Council, a first from two points of view for a Japanese head of government, since this will also be the first time that a Japanese prime minister will have been received at NATO’s general headquarters. This event will take place in total harmony with Washington’s plans.

The objective is to convince – if there were any need of it – the European members of NATO, like France, that NATO needs to be enlarged to make it the armed branch – under US command – of world capitalist hegemony. The general secretary of NATO, Jeep de Hoop Scheffer, proclaimed, on the eve of the NATO summit (in Riga on 28 November): “If there is to be a minimum of order and security in the world today, the transatlantic community must accept the responsibility of taking action where such action is needed ...”

It is in this sense that a “reinforced partnership” with Japan (as well as with Australia and New Zealand) has been studied for the past several months. The director of the Japanese Institute for International Relations, Makio Miyagawa, confirmed the project in these terms: “The two parties are coming closer and closer together.” And as an example of immediate application, he said: “What the NATO countries expect of Japan is supplementary engagements such as the sending of troops to Afghanistan.”

This “rapprochement” has two complementary objectives for both Japanese and US military deployment. For Washington it is a question, in the short term, of finding additional military and human resources to prevent an unavoidable debacle in Iraq, and, at the same time, to try to develop a destabilizing strategy in the Middle East by threatening Iran. Finally, the Afghanistan quagmire requires, according to George Bush’s friends, an intensification of the war by increasing the firepower.

Due to the above factors, the NATO smokescreen is a good means to redeploy Japanese forces in the “trivialization” process, following their withdrawal – under the pressure of Japanese public opinion – of the Japanese contingent from Iraq. This process of the remilitarization of Japan is a US policy objective, which thus provides support for Japanese conservative forces. Although Japan is officially pacifist – its constitution forbids all wars – Japan has one of the biggest military budgets in the world, estimated at - according to Le Monde of December 15, 2006 - 32 billion euros. The internationally-accepted participation of Japanese forces in “coalition” actions under the leadership of the US will be at one and the same time a significant support for the realization of US hegemonic policy and a way for Japanese conservatives to advance among the Japanese people – most of whom are still pacifist – the idea that Japan must “have the means that correspond to its power.” The North Korean regime, in announcing a nuclear test, helped this project significantly. Tokyo was thus able to announce, without any protests on the part of the international community, that Japan could also acquire nuclear weapons in a few months...

Thus there is nothing in all of this except plans to speed up the arms race and the race towards more conflicts and greater chances of war. Of course, the French government has made known its reluctance to the process of transforming NATO into a global police force, but at the same time French military is participating wholeheartedly in the NATO intervention in Afghanistan.

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