by Yoshikazu Sakamoto
While the U.S. is trying to ?gdemocratize?h the world, that is, to make the world safe for the U.S., it is imperative to remember that governing in a democracy, whether national or international, must derive legitimacy from the consent of the governed. It is natural, therefore, that in the post-Cold War world where the principle of democracy is being universalized, to ensure international legitimacy, not simply hard power, should become crucial as the criterion of diplomacy…..
But the Bush administration has acted in a way that is in diametrical opposition to the principle of legitimacy by adopting the strategy of preventive attack in violation of international law and the United Nations Charter, and prosecuting a war on the basis of a dubious fiction that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and sponsored international terrorism.
………. Abduction of innocent citizens is a grave human rights violation. But is the denunciation of the abduction an expression of anger toward infringement on human rights of Japanese compatriots or protest against infringement of universal human rights? If it is the former, then it is nothing more than self-centered nationalism. If it is the latter, then the Japanese must pay due attention to the violation of human rights of Koreans in the past by imperial Japan and try to solve the abduction issue while showing readiness to tackle the question of compensation for Koreans who were forcibly taken for forced labor and the former ?gcomfort women?h who were enslaved by the imperial Japanese army.
If Japan discards its unilateralist response and adopts a policy of alleviating the confrontation with North Korea on the basis of universal principles, it can also play a positive role in pushing a multilateral settlement of the Iraq question in the United Nations without binding itself with the U.S.?fs unilateralism, and also in seeking multilateral solutions in the area of regional security cooperation in East Asia, particularly focused on the Korean peninsula.
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Yoshikazu Sakamoto is Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University. This is a slightly revised version of the article appeared in The Japan Times, January 1, 2004.
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