Chief of Japan’s air force claims right to global self-defence of imperialism

Growing militarism worldwide highlights necessity for an anti-war government

GENERAL Toshio Tamogami Chief of Japan’s Air Self-Defence Forces has published an essay that mirrors the U.S. military doctrine of global self-defence of imperialism.

U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates justifies as self-defence U.S. military strikes on Syria and Pakistan, the U.S. wars and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terror. Gates declares that the U.S. military will attack any country that it perceives as a threat to its global interests. The U.S. military doctrine further warns that it will attack any state that deliberately or through negligence allows attacks on any of the hundreds of U.S. military bases and installations and thousands of U.S. military personnel located outside the United States. This threat of U.S. attack pertains also to terrorist strikes within the U.S., which the U.S. military may claim to be inspired or organized by criminal gangs abroad for which a particular state or states will be held responsible.

The U.S. military doctrine of global self-defence also includes threats to attack any country that currently does not have nuclear bombs but which the U.S. military assumes is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons’ capacity or transfer nuclear weapons’ technology to others. The U.S. military doctrine applies to all countries whether they are currently allied with the United States or not. The U.S. military doctrine follows the imperialist line that states never have permanent friends only temporary relations for pragmatic purposes and that no international law or established rules of civilized behaviour shall interfere with the right of the U.S. military to dictate international affairs according to its global imperialist interests.

Pragmatic relations for self-serving purposes among the powerful imperialists of the Triad (U.S., Europe and Japan) are tenuous and explosive and could turn violent at any time. Analysts have noted that two powerful countries of the Triad, Japan and Germany, currently do not officially possess nuclear weapons and Defence Secretary Gates pointedly did not exclude them from states that would be attacked if they attempted to acquire them or transferred nuclear weapons’ technology to other countries.

General Toshio Tamogami

Sixty year old Tamogami is a graduate of the National Defence Academy in Yokosuka, which is designed to train elite officers for the Japanese armed forces. Following the U.S. occupation of Japan in 1945 the Japanese military was reorganized in 1947 to suppress the Japanese working class and its allies and help the U.S. contain communism in Asia and interfere in Asia’s political, economic, military and civil affairs. Japan became U.S. imperialism’s most important base and staging ground for its continuous wars of aggression against Asian nations and their ancient peoples. The Japanese military has since been called the Jietai (Self-Defence (Jie) Forces (tai)). Yokosuka is also the location of a large U.S. military base. (See FYI note below on the U.S. Yokosuka military base.)

In his essay, Tamogami uses the Japanese war of aggression against China and the colonization of Korea and Taiwan as props to promote the U.S. military doctrine of global self-defence and Japanese militarism.

Japanese Militarism

Japanese victories in the Russo-Japanese and Sino-Japanese wars of the late nineteenth century, and the unequal treaties ending the Japanese colonial invasion of China and war with Russia, according to Japanese militarism gave Japan the “right and duty” to occupy Eastern China.

September 18, 1931 near Mukden (now Shenyang, China) in southern Manchuria, a section of railroad owned by Japan’s South Manchuria Railway was dynamited. The Imperial Japanese Army, accusing Chinese dissidents of the act, responded with a massive invasion of Manchuria, leading to the formal establishment of the Japanese colony of Manchukuo the following year and a full-scale war against China in 1937. In response to the September 18 railway bombing, the Japanese militarists invoked their right to global self-defence wherever they are engaged, which is similar in most respects to the U.S. military doctrine of global self-defence, calling all resistance to their colonial invasions and occupations as terrorism and anti-Japanese or anti-U.S. aggression.

Tamogami also used the Japanese colonial occupations of Korea and Taiwan during the first half of the twentieth century as historical parallels justifying U.S. colonial occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the right and duty of collective self-defence of imperialist allies. Based on the current Japan/U.S. military alliance, Tamogami stressed the necessity for collective self-defence of imperialist allies and that Japanese militarism must be actively engaged along with the U.S. military wherever it is presently fighting. In this regard he called for changes to the Japanese constitution to allow for a legal complete collective self-defence alliance with the U.S. military. Such a collective military alliance (similar to NATO and Canada’s collective self-defence within the U.S. Empire through NATO, NORAD and Northern Command) would legally allow the Japanese Jietai to engage in foreign wars alongside other aggressors, at this point in time the U.S. military wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, naval blockades on the high seas and any other actions under the U.S. global war on terror, all of which are almost universally opposed by the Japanese working class and many in the middle strata.

On Japan’s Constitution Day, May 3, 2008, some 4,300 demonstrators took to the streets of Tokyo in support of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. In Article 9, instituted in 1947, the state formally renounces war as a sovereign right and bans settlement of international disputes through the use of force. The article also states that to accomplish these aims, armed forces with war potential will not be maintained.

Bottom: The Global Article 9 Conference held May 4-6, 2008 attracted more than 33,000 participants throughout Japan. Nearly 200 international guest speakers and participants came from 40 different countries and regions.

Japanese Militarism’s Burden to Rid the World of Racism

Tamogami writes favourably of the Japanese colonial occupations of Korea and Taiwan and war of aggression against China in the manner of a U.S. or European “white man’s burden” bringing benefits to the oppressed sovereign nations such as the U.S. and Canadian militaries now claim to be doing by bringing “democracy” and “women’s liberation” to Western and Central Asia through war, anarchy, mayhem and brutal occupation.

The historical “burden” of Japanese militarism was to rid Asia of European and U.S. racism and colonialism so that East Asians would be recognized as “equals” with the Western racist colonisers.

Tamogami writes, “If Japan had not fought the Greater East Asia War at that time, it might have taken another 100 or 200 years before we could have experienced the world of racial equality that we have today…. We need to realize that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War.” Tamogami writes that Japanese colonialism was superior and more civilized and progressive than that of the west: “Among the major powers at that time, Japan was the only nation that tried to incorporate its colonies within the nation itself.”

Left: South Korean comfort women, enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, and their supporters shout slogans during an anti-Japan rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to denounce Japanese lawmakers’ April 22, 2008 visit to a war shrine, a symbol of Japan’s militaristic past. Right: Koreans and Japanese take part in a protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul demanding Tokyo’s official apology and compensation for Korean comfort women, July 23, 2008.

Aside from being factually wrong, as Tamogami’s “incorporation of colonies” is merely a euphemism for annexation which has long been practiced by all colonialists, Japanese militarism’s attempt “to incorporate” Korea into Japan with such colonial dictates as the law ordering Koreans to “rename” themselves in Japanese, forcing them to adopt the Japanese language and culture and the kidnapping and removal of over a million Koreans into Japan as chattel labour were particularly hated by the dignified and proud people of Korea.

Inter-Imperialist Contradictions

Tamogami does not ignore the contradiction with the U.S. military, which forms part of the contradictions among imperialist powers and is always bubbling beneath the surface of the current U.S./Japan military alliance. In those years before WWII, inter-imperialist contradictions in East Asia were intense involving Japan, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United States and others. Tamogami sees Japanese militarism and war as bringing respect to Asia and the rise of Japanese imperialism to its rightful position as a powerful member of the Triad. The human suffering throughout East Asia wrought by Japanese militarism and other contending imperialists, especially the U.S. military, before during and after WWII had to be paid according to Tamogami. This includes the human and material destruction of Japan itself as witnessed with the utter annihilation of the people of Okinawa, the U.S. firebombing of most Japanese cities and the nuclear holocaust in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The “Greater East Asia War,” as described by Japanese militarists, was a liberation struggle of the nascent nations of East Asia led by Japan against the colonisers of Europe and the United States, their local flunkeys and various backward Asian feudal forces. The U.S. instigated and financed Chiang Kai-shek and other anti-Japanese Chinese and Korean “terrorists” to attack the Japanese “liberators.” The anti-Japanese western colonial campaign eventually led to a U.S.-organized oil blockade of Japan, which “provoked” the Japanese militarists into attacking U.S. Naval forces at their colonial base in Pearl Harbour.

The militarists present Japan as the victim of western imperialism and their Asia minions and refuse to acknowledge that following the overthrow of the shogunates (official Japanese feudal rule since 1192) in 1868, the rapid transformation of Japan into a state monopoly capitalist system by the beginning of the twentieth century and the colonization of Korea and Taiwan, Japan had become an imperialist aggressor and powerful competitor with the western imperialist states. The fact that Japan resides in East Asia does not negate its imperialist activity in that region in the same manner that U.S. military actions in Central and South America and the Caribbean do not negate its imperialist nature simply because the U.S. military describes those regions as its backyard.

General Tamogami and his public essay represent a trial balloon of overt militarism among the ruling elite of the Jietai and the party in power in the Diet (Parliament). He knew in advance that he would be transferred from his position as Chief of the Air Jietai as his open praise of pre-WWII militarism is not yet the overt official position of the Japanese party in power (Jiminto-Liberal Democratic Party) under Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Tamogami announced his retirement November 3, as he has passed the official age of 60 for officers holding less than the rank of Chief of a service of the Jietai. Japanese militarism, besides its control of the Jietai, now holds executive power in the two most important political offices in Japan: the Prime Minister’s Office under Taro Aso, and the Tokyo Governor’s office held by the notorious militarist Shintaro Ishihara.

Prime Minister Taro Aso, the current leader of the Party in power as the national government, is the eldest brother within the Aso family’s privately owned monopoly, Aso Group. Taro Aso has publicly acknowledged that his family’s coal mining company forced 10,000 Korean conscripts to work in its coal mines between 1939 and 1945 under severe, brutal conditions in which many of them died or were injured while receiving bare subsistence pay. The Aso family company through its close relations with the Japanese military also forced prisoners of war to work in its private mines in 1945 contrary to international law. Three hundred prisoners, including 197 Australians, 101 British, and two Dutch, were forced to labour in an Aso mine during which two Australians died.

Tamogami Believes Militarism Will Make Japan Great Again

General Tamogami ended his essay writing, “We must take back the glorious history of Japan. A nation that denies its own history is destined to pursue a path of decline.”

This call to return to the glories of Japanese militarism echoes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s colonial plea to “make Britain great again” and British imperialism’s slavish devotion to the U.S. military’s aggressive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terror.

The close connection between Japanese monopolies and militarism is underscored not only by the Aso Group being at the centre of power through Prime Minister Taro Aso but by the fact that APA Group, a Tokyo-based developer of condominiums and operator of hotels solicited Tamogami’s essay through a contest that addressed the “true perspectives of modern and contemporary history.” Not surprisingly, Tamogami’s essay “Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?” was awarded the top prize of 3 million yen ($33,000) and given massive publicity when it appeared on the APA Group website and printed in its magazine.

Tamogami directly denounces the Chinese government, writing it is “certainly a false accusation” to say Japan was “an aggressor nation…. The current Chinese government obstinately insists that there was a ‘Japanese invasion,’ but Japan obtained its interests in the Chinese mainland legally under international law through the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and so on, and it placed its troops there based on treaties in order to protect those interests.” Colonial interests must be actively defended from the people’s resistance and is legally justified according to Japanese militarism and the U.S. military doctrine of global self-defence.

Filipina comfort women stage a rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila on August 15, 2008, demanding compensation for being forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during their occupation of the country. The rally was staged to coincide with the 63rd anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported November 1 that the Chinese government “voiced strong indignation over an essay written by former Japanese air force chief Gen. Toshio Tamogami which denied the country’s World War Two aggression in Asia.

“‘We are shocked by and express our strong indignation over the senior Japanese military officer’s denial of Japan’s aggression and overtly glorifying its history of invasion,’ Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in response to a question.

“‘The war of aggression launched by the Japanese militarists brought untold suffering to the Asian people including the Chinese people, which is an undeniable historic fact,’ she said, adding that having a correct understanding of, and properly dealing with that period of history, is the important political basis for the development of Sino-Japanese friendly and cooperative ties.”

The government of the Republic of Korea also condemned the essay as “a distortion of history, which must not be left unchecked.”

Canadians should actively engage in the international denunciation of the alliance of Japanese militarism and the U.S. military doctrine of global self-defence. The spectre of a world war even more calamitous than WWII darkens the future of the entire world dominated as it is by the imperialist Triad and its reactionary theories and practice. Canadians can play a positive role by organizing and fighting for an anti-war government that would immediately sever military ties with the U.S. Empire. An anti-war government would directly bring Canadian troops home from the U.S. war front in Afghanistan and remove Canada from all imperialist collective self-defence treaties including NATO, NORAD and Northern Command.

In organizing for an anti-war government Canadian worker politicians and workers and middle strata generally should discuss the U.S. military doctrine of global self-defence and expose its role in expanding the U.S. Empire and attacking the sovereign right of nations and peoples to live in peace without military threats, interference and aggression from the imperialist powers of the Triad.

Sources: Kyodo News Agency, Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Xinhua, Korean Times

TML Daily, November 7, 2008 – No. 160

For Your Information: U.S. Naval Base in Yokosuka Japan

– Excerpt from –

Yokosuka is America’s most important naval facility in the Western Pacific, and the largest, most strategically important overseas U.S. Naval installation in the world. The centerpiece of the Pacific Fleet forward presence mission is the Forward-Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in Japan. The 17 ships in Japan make up the KITTY HAWK aircraft carrier battle group in Yokosuka and the BELLEAU WOOD amphibious ready group in Sasebo. Having ships in this strategic location gives a great deal of capability for the dollar because the Japanese government funds over 70% of total U.S. military support expenses as host nation support, which totaled approximately $5 Billion in 1998. FDNF is also a force multiplier that gives us significant leverage in these asset-limited times. It would take three to five times as many ships from mainland U.S. bases to provide the same presence and crisis response capability as from the FDNF. Although FDNF ships normally combine with rotational deployers from Hawaii and the west coast to engage Western and Southern Pacific countries, their strategic positioning makes them fully capable of providing initial and substantial response to other theaters.

Yokosuka has 18 ship berths, five tugboats, and numerous anchorages, as well as the only degaussing (demagnetising) range in the western pacific, which is used jointly with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces (JMSDF). Piedmont Pier is where Yokosuka’s forward deployed aircraft carrier is usually berthed. While the pier was being renovated, the carrier was berthed at Sherman Pier.

Fleet Activities: Yokosuka boasts the largest and best of everything the Navy has to offer, with 23,000 military and civilian personnel. COMFLEACT Yokosuka comprises 568 acres and is located at the entrance of Tokyo Bay, 43 miles south of Tokyo and approximately 18 miles south of Yokohama on the Miura peninsula in the Kanto Plain region of the Pacific Coast in Central Honshu, Japan. The 55 tenant commands which make up this impressive installation support WESTPAC operating forces, including principle afloat elements of the United States SEVENTH Fleet and COMDESRON 15, including the only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier, USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63).

Seoul Regrets Japan General’s Distortion

Korean Times, November 2, 2008 (excerpts) –

Seoul and Beijing slammed Tokyo Saturday for a former Japanese air force general’s claim that Korea, China and other Asian countries benefited from Japan’s colonial rule, which ended at the conclusion of World War II.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Saturday that the former Japanese military official was trying to distort history.

“Japan should repent of its wrongdoings and learn from them. By doing so, Japan can build good relations with other nations,” said the foreign ministry.

The ministry urged Japan not to distort history again.

Seoul’s reaction came after Toshio Tamogami, Japan’s former Air Self-Defense chief general, claimed in an essay submitted in a contest that Korea, China and other Asian countries were better off under Japanese colonial rule.

In an article entitled “True Views of Modern History,” he insisted that many Asian countries assessed positively the legacy of Japanese colonialism and therefore it was regretful to hear allegations that Japan was an aggressor.

Tamogami, who became chief general in March 2007, also argued that his country had never sent its military to the Korean peninsula or mainland China without the prior consent of the two nations.

The Japanese government dismissed Tamogami last Friday shortly after the specific elements of his article were made public and stirred neighboring governments.

China lashed out on Tamogami’s comments Saturday.

Jiang Yu, a deputy spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry, said in a statement that China was “shocked and angered” by the high-ranking military official’s comments.

His interpretation not only distorted history but also justified Japan’s aggression in neighboring countries, it said.

“It is a historical fact that the Japanese military waged a war of aggression against China and other Asian countries, resulting in major casualties,” the statement said.

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