Michael Penn, president of the Shingetsu News Agency, on Japanese Prime Minister Kishida’s assertion that all Japan taxpayers have a “responsibility” to support its policy of dramatically increasing military expenditures, accepting the premise that Japan’s neighbors are likely to launch an armed attack unless deterred from doing so [and that] this marks the effective end of [Kishida’s] “New Capitalism.”
The article’s main points, in Penn’s words:
- This military buildup comes as Japan still has a constitution mandating that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” The constitution also states that “war potential” will not be maintained.
- Indeed, for all the talk of “rules-based order” and commitments to the “rule of law,” discussions of constitutional limitations have basically disappeared from the mainstream political debate on security policy, tending only to be mentioned by the Japan Communist Party or a few others on the political left. Apparently, one can now uphold “rule of law” even while disregarding the nation’s basic law.
- It has become commonplace to assert that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a more threatening security environment for Japan. This is open to question.
- The notion that Japan is under increased threat from Russia and China is largely based on a kind of psychological character study of the “evil” of President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping; they are bad men from whom bad things must be expected.
- The logic of this kind of personalization of international politics might be dismissed by recalling how the “evil” of former Iraqi President Saddam Husain was once presented as “evidence” that Iraq was secretly hiding weapons of mass destruction. Simplistic tropes about “mad dictators” arise again and again in the mainstream media, and they routinely lead to bad decision-making based on false premises.
- Even in this century, there have been repeated instances of military aggression perpetrated by democratic nations. Indeed, the number of such cases is higher than the number of cross-border invasions carried out by dictatorial regimes.
- It is also worth noting that the very same Abe disciples who are pushing for massive military spending have done everything in their power to undercut Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in his cautious effort to improve bilateral diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing.
- They seem to have already decided that Japan will certainly be fighting a future war with China, and if such an event isn’t inevitable, they are going to make sure that it is [and that ] while Kishida does not share such views, he is, in his own way, now beginning to facilitate them.
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An Epitaph for Kishida’s New Capitalism
In a related mailing to Shingetsu News Agency subscribers on December 14, Penn wrote:
Kishida Lost in Military Buildup Crossfire
Political crossfire is intensifying over the question of just how the government will pay for its dramatic increase in military spending. After all, it is one thing to give in to Pentagon-directed fear-mongering about how the People’s Liberation Army aims to launch an attack on Shibuya Crossing unless it is “deterred” from doing so, but it is quite another to impoverish some part of the nation to pay for guns, missiles, ships, and fighter jets which have little economic value, and don’t solve any of Japan’s real structural problems.
One of the more controversial suggestions is to highjack the 2.1% levy on individual income taxes which was imposed for the purpose of post-March 11 reconstruction in the Tohoku region. Some ruling party lawmakers want to redirect these taxpayer funds toward the military buildup.
Meanwhile, Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi is standing by her public criticism of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for even raising the issue of tax increases at this time. (Some ruling party rightwingers wanted this tax hike discussion delayed until after a long campaign of propaganda regarding the alleged foreign military threats). Takaichi is basically daring Kishida to fire her, declaring that “the prime minister has the authority to appoint Cabinet ministers, so if I’m removed from office, it can’t be helped.” Kishida will soon discover, if he doesn’t already know it, that the Liberal Democratic Party in fact has no consensus on fundamental economic issues, and even strong prime ministers face difficulty pushing their economic policies through. Kishida’s position is starting to look hopeless. He will meet with strong opposition no matter which way he turns, and nobody fears him.
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