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Abe's three shots at pacifism

Publication Date : 18-12-2013


It is hardly cheering news that a country whose leaders still salute war criminals has formally launched its military reconstruction.

Approving Japan's security strategy, defence programme guidelines and mid-term defence programme on Tuesday, the Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially mandated his doctrine of "proactive pacifism", which heralds a new round of Japan's military buildup.

Serving as a guideline for Japan's foreign and defence policies, the first national security strategy sets Japan on a course toward greater involvement in military-related matters, with reduced emphasis on diplomacy.

Based on the national security strategy, Japan's national defence programme guidelines and mid-term defence programme show a Japanese army that will be beefed up in the coming decade.

If this is what Abe's "proactive pacifism" is about, he is steering his country along a dangerous path.

It spells a radical break with Japan's post-World War II tradition of keeping a distance from international conflicts and trying to build peace through nonmilitary means, which has earned Japan the trust of the international community. Pacifism is one of postwar Japan's central values many Japanese have accepted.

Abe's "proactive pacifism" doctrine is essentially turning Japanese self-defence forces into "ordinary armed forces".

Since coming into power in December 2012, Abe's government has openly criticised China, toughened its stance on Japan's territorial dispute with China, boosted military spending and taken steps to free the country's military from the constraints imposed by the Japanese Constitution.

The revision of the guidelines for the Japan-US defence cooperation, which is due next year, will formalise "robust" new military arrangements between the two countries and facilitate Abe's plan to build "a strong military".

It is worthwhile noting that this advocate of the doctrine of "proactive pacifism" is a historical revisionist who minimises or ignores Japan's wartime atrocities.

He succeeded in having his doctrine incorporated into the joint statement the Japan-Asean summit issued on Saturday.

In doing so, he asked the Southeast Asian nations to take sides with Japan to contain China. He has been planting seeds of distrust and even hatred in Southeast Asia, driving a wedge between the region and China.

If this is part of his "proactive pacifism" doctrine, it will invite confrontation rather than make peace.

The catchy but vague expression "proactive pacifism" is Abe's camouflage to woo international understanding of Japan's move to become a military power.



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