The Speaking Out series is produced by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.
[Speaking Out] Japan Should Support Oppressed Ethnic Minorities in China
What Japan should seek three-quarters of a century after World War II is to break away from the Yalta systemーa framework for the postwar international order, including the treatment of Japan, based on a secret agreement reached between the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union at their conference in Yalta on the Crimea Peninsula in February 1945.
The Yalta agreement was a secret pact, and some countries subjected to the system were not represented in the conference. Given that, I would also note that the Yalta system runs counter to international law.
Mongolia Divided under Yalta
Despite its absence from the Yalta conference, Japan was subjected to the post-war system decided there. It was forced to hand over the four northern islands, which are its inherent territories, to the Soviet Union. This was an unreasonable treatment for a defeated country.
RELATED ARTICLE: Post-war Remembrance: Russia Stole Japan’s Northern Territories 75 Years Ago
Another country subjected to the Yalta system was Mongolia, which was among the victorious countries. The country is geographically divided by the Gobi Desert into southern and northern parts. Although Mongolia became independent from China’s Qing Dynasty in 1911, early on Northern Mongolia was put into the Russian sphere of influence and Southern Mongolia into the Japanese sphere.
Later, Southern Mongolia became part of Manchukuo and the Mongolia autonomous region (or Mengjiang), and followed the Japanese-type modernization path. Northern Mongolia made nation-building efforts with support from the Soviet Union under the Western model.
The two Mongolias shared the vision of a unified Mongolia and struggled to realize the vision.
An opportunity to do so came in August 1945. Northern Mongolia, or the Mongolian People’s Republic, cooperated with the Soviet Union in penetrating into Southern Mongolia and Manchuria, liberating Mongolians from the Japanese and Chinese rule. A Mongolian government delegation entered Southern Mongolia along with military forces and launched reconstruction efforts, while leading local people.
Then came the revelation of the secret Yalta agreement to divide Mongolians as at present.
Postwar Japan quickly revived itself, becoming an industrial power. Southern Mongolia, for its part, was left as a Chinese colony. It’s people were economically exploited, and its nomadic civilization diminished. Tens of thousands of intellectuals and military officers nurtured under the Japanese rule were cruelly purged for cooperation with Japan.
Engagement With Former Sphere of Influence Countries
Seventy five years after its devastating defeat, Japan has now emerged as a Free World leader. Japan should recognize that the time has come, not only to take back the four northern islands lost under the Yalta Agreement, but also to proactively engage with people in its former colonies and sphere of influence.
Colonies should not satisfy themselves with mere independence from their rulers. There are many things to learn through interaction with former colonial masters about how modern nations should be. Taiwan, with which Japan had maintained diplomatic relations over a long time, has become a model nation in Asia.
[Speaking Out] Japan Needs to Become a Great Power Again, 75 Years After the War
In 1853 Commodore Perry visited Japan with a complaint. Japan was not a great power which threatened the U.S. Navy, but as the ranges of sailing ships increased owing to technological advances, isolated Tokugawa Japan either refused assistance to shipwrecked vessels or sometimes killed the crews.
Perry delivered a letter from the U.S. president demanding that Japan open itself to vessels in distress. Impressed by the might of Perry’s ships, a new government took power in Japan and the mislabeled Meiji Restoration quickly grew Japan into a powerful nation.
Cognizant of the vulnerability of the Japanese islands to an adversary-dominated Korean peninsula, Japan went to war against China in 1894. And when Russian influence in Korea became unacceptable in 1904, Japan went to war again. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with Japan that he hosted the peace conference in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. From that point on, Roosevelt ordered the U.S. Navy to monitor Japanese military prowess.
First Comeback Since the Battle of Midway
Japan’s great power was destroyed by 1945, but the 75 years since have been mostly stable because the U.S.A’s military strength has not been seriously challenged. The Soviet Union’s power threatened the last three decades of the Cold War, but fell back owing to the collapse of the Russian economy.
The post-Cold War period seemed very stable at the outset owing to the overwhelming capabilities of the United States. But in the last three decades, the U.S. failed to carefully monitor China’s military buildup, and even allowed American companies to sell highly sensitive technology to China. This has resulted in the U.S. finding itself outnumbered, outranged and outgunned by the Chinese military, especially in the East and South China Seas critical to its ownーand Japan’s security.
Finally the Trump administration is reorienting the U.S. military to the Western Pacific, and the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps has just outlined a ten year plan to do so. Marines will be land-based along parts of the First Island Chain, which includes Okinawa, the Nansei Shoto and Taiwan.
As presently operated, neither Japan nor the United States alone can sufficiently deter China’s threats to the Indo-Pacific region. But integrated Japanese and American land, sea and air power, hopefully in cooperation with Australia and India as well, can prevent China from becoming a dominant military hegemon.
Rather than say Japan needs to support the U.S. I prefer to say that Japan and the U.S. need to jointly implement a grand strategy integrating land, sea and air based forces operated from a combined U.S.-Japan command headquarters. To succeed Japan needs to become more than a junior partner, but must for the first time since the Battle of Midway become a great power to ensure the continuation of peace and security.
Combined U.S-Japan defense to deter China
Japan doesn’t need huge increases in military power or its number of bases, but Japan’s political leaders must empower Japan’s Self Defense Forces to operate powerfully, quickly and reliably. Waiting for Diet notification and severe limitations of operational flexibility will insure failure.
A combined Japanese and American defense grand strategy will not compromise Japanese or American sovereignty and will be compatible with Japan’s right of collective self-defense. But a coordinated, flexible, high technology combination of the two great powers can foil China’s attempt to take control of Taiwan and the East and Sout...
[Speaking Out] Kim Jong Un Calls for Self-reliance to Break Through International Sanctions
North Korea held a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party (KWP) from December 28-31. Although some 300 full and candidate members of the Central Committee usually attend plenary meetings, this time about 2,000 were present at the gathering, including party cadres, government agency officials, and military officers ranked below Central Committee candidate members. They were summoned to Pyongyang from around the country and occupied the gallery seats.
The party’s chairman, Kim Jong Un, gave a seven-hour speech at the meeting, calling for self-reliance efforts to confront international sanctions. I would like to share what Kim reported, and some of the latest relevant information.
North Korean Governance Funds Being Depleted
As foreign currency reserves in North Korea are being depleted due to international sanctions, it has become difficult even for KWP cadres to have their living guaranteed. “The challenges that have faced us in the past several months have been so harsh and dangerous that others would not withstand even a single day but yield to them,” Kim said.
Although he made no direct mention of foreign currency shortages, information from Pyongyang in early January indicated that Kim’s governance funds would be completely depleted by the autumn of 2020.
However, North Korea refuses to accept the U.S. demand for the dismantlement of nuclear missiles to win the lifting of the sanctions. “It is true that we urgently need an external environment favorable for construction of our economy, but we can never sell our dignity, which we have so far defended, which is as valuable as our own life, in the hope of gorgeous transformation.” Kim said.
Kim told the 2,000 cadres present to make a head-on breakthrough on their own against economic deterioration caused by the sanctions, without help from the Party. In a report titled “Let us break through head-on all the barriers to our advance,” Kim reiterated “a head-on breakthrough” and “self-reliance,” advocating that spiritualism of a strong determination can alter objective conditions.
“It is our firm revolutionary faith that we will defend the dignity of the country and defeat imperialism by achieving prosperity by dint of self-reliance and even by tightening our belts,” he said. “If we all continue to wage a dynamic struggle with an indomitable revolutionary faith, ardent patriotism, and indefatigable fighting spirit, we will be able to overcome the difficulties.”
Kim added, “We will intensify the struggle against the anti-socialist and non-socialist practices,” effectively vowing to purge complainers without mercy. There is information that four to five diplomats were executed by firing squad for their failure in negotiations with the United States in December.
Growing Discontent Among the People
The following remark is said to be spreading among North Korean people:
Kim Jong Un can no longer lead this country. Kim ordered us this time to depend on self-reliance for enduring difficulties amid the confrontation with the U.S. that would be prolonged. On his way to Hanoi for a U.S.-North Korea summit last February, he touted that the people’s livelihood would be improved as he leads Trump to recognize North Korea as a nuclear power, lift sanctions, and provide economic assistance. He is a liar.
It is said that North Korea had a plan to fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), or a geostationary satellite at the end of the year, but it postponed the launch.
[Speaking Out] Japanese Lawmakers Won’t Tolerate Human Rights Abuse in China
The international community, especially Western countries, are casting a stern eye on the suppression of Tibetan and Uyghur human rights in China, the world’s second largest military and economic power.
On December 3, the United States House of Representatives voted 407-1 to pass the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act that urges President Donald Trump and his administration to respond sternly to Chinese authorities that crack down on the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The bill points out that Chinese authorities have stepped-up a crackdown in the region. It urges President Trump to condemn the action and demand that China immediately shut down the internment camps, which China refers to as “reeducation facilities.” The bill has now been sent back to the Senate.
President Trump has yet to specify whether he will sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk. Given that his decision would exert great influence on the international community, I hope that the President will sign it.
China Attempted to Interrupt World Uyghur Congress in Tokyo
I am a member of the Japan-Uyghur Parliamentary League, which was launched by Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers in 2012, when the Fourth World Uyghur Congress took place in Tokyo. The league now has 30 members.
At the time, the then-Chinese ambassador in Tokyo sent letters to more than 100 National Diet members in both the ruling and opposition camps, warning that Japan’s safety would be put at risk if the World Uyghur Congress was allowed to open in Japan. LDP lawmakers called a press conference to protest the warning.
Lawmakers also sent the Chinese ambassador a protest letter, stating, “We would continue to act according to Japanese National Diet members’ common wisdom.” We would like China to behave like a mature country that has a great regard for the international community’s values of freedom, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
Justifiable Humanitarian Intervention
Nearly 20 years ago, I visited Kashgar, Urumqi, Turpan, and other places in the Uyghur Autonomous Region. They were charming locations that featured the gentle people and the beauty of Islamic spiritual culture, songs, dances, prayers, and livelihoods.
Now, more than one million Uyghurs in the region reportedly have been detained, tortured, and deprived of their religion, culture, and history in internment camps. The detainment has come under harsh fire from the international community.
China has insisted that the detainment is an internal problem. At a press conference in Beijing on December 9, Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, asserted that the international community’s criticism of the detainment amounted to a blatant intervention in China’s domestic affairs.
Is this true? The international common wisdom is that the international community should humanely intervene in cases of human rights abuse if it reaches a critical level that shocks the human conscience.
The international environment surrounding Japan is plagued with an unprecedented sense of tension. Under a firm belief that any human rights abuse should not be tolerated, my colleague lawmakers and I would like to forge ahead as “one team.”
A version of this article was first published by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, Speaking Out #641, on December 12, 2019.
[Speaking Out] Anti-Japan Tribalism Undermines Tokyo-Seoul Relations
Recently I had a talk with former Seoul University professor of economics Lee Yong Hoon, who authored the book Anti-Japan Tribalism. The book became a bestseller in Japan as well as in South Korea.
What Lee calls anti-Japan tribalism means living in an illusion unrelated to historical facts, rational thinking, or intellect. According to the book, when their country, society, or race is plagued with problems, Koreans view Japan as the root of all evil and blame Japan for causing their hardship, then step up anti-Japan campaigns to make themselves feel better without any further thinking, according to the book.
Such intellectual laziness has undermined Japan-South Korea relations over historical awareness, economics, and politics.
Lee wrote the book, foreboding the country’s ruin if Koreans fail to overcome their anti-Japan tribalism that prevents any rational thinking. Unless they correct their course, the future of the Republic of Korea will be dark.
A Patriot Accusing a Country of Lies
The book is full of surprisingly frank comments. It brands South Korea as a country of lies. It criticizes the people who lie, the politics which lie, the scholarship of lies, and the trials of lies.
As a scholar, Lee heartfully urges South Korea to wake up and its people to use their brains. In the book, the author writes that comfort women were not coercively recruited or treated as sex slaves. He writes that wartime Korean workers in Japan were paid fairly according to their labor, receiving pay that was two, three, or four times more than for servicemen, teachers, company employees, and bankers of the time. He writes these things in detail because he has conducted research as a historian and deeply loves his mother country.
The direct reason that caused the deterioration of Japan-South Korea relations to the brink of collapse is the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling in October 2018 that defied the 1965 bilateral claims agreement. The issue of wartime Korean workers in Japan was completely and finally resolved in 1965.
Nevertheless, anti-Japan tribalism prevented the South Korean Supreme Court from recognizing the facts, leading the court to totally deny the bilateral agreement and order the Japanese company to pay compensation to former wartime workers.
Lee asked me a question on the matter: “Japanese companies’ assets in South Korea under seizure by relevant plaintiffs may be seized and put into a pension fund as early as December. How will the Japanese respond to that?”
Neither the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals nor I as an individual is in a position to speak for the Japanese government. However, I responded by sharing the consensus of Japanese people.
The view of the Japanese public is that the Japanese government should take retaliatory action to protect Japanese companies as soon as their assets are seized.
“I really want Japan to do so. The South Korean government and people should recognize that their way of doing is unjustifiable and does not work in the international community,” Lee responded calmly.
A Resolute Japan Can Build Friendship
Lee’s remark might also be taken as a warning to Japan.
Traditionally, Japan has accepted or conceded to South Korean demands with a sense of atonement, even if they were irrational or unreasonable. As such, this Japanese attitude has paved the way for the anti-Japan tribalism to spread.
[Speaking Out] Extraneous Japan Refrains from Supporting Hong Kong Protests
The Group of Seven industrial democracies, at their annual summit meeting in August, should have agreed to urge China to recognize Hong Kong’s high-level autonomy and avoid violence to put down Hong Kong citizens’ massive protest rallies, as they had promised earlier.
The British government issued a statement through its foreign secretary, condemning the China-backed Hong Kong police’s firing of live ammunition at protesters. At the same time, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a unanimous bipartisan bill backing Hong Kongers’ demands for democratization.
However, the Japanese government has remained indecisive, failing to criticize Hong Kong authorities or their backer China for efforts to suppress the protests. And at the Japanese National Diet, no moves have been seen regarding the Hong Kong issue.
Has Japan become an extraneous country among the Western industrial democracies?
Britain Spearheads Criticism of Crackdown
Among the G7 countries, Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler Britain has been the most sensitive to the crackdown on Hong Kong rallies. Immediately after a high school student was seriously injured by live rounds fired by the Hong Kong police on October 1, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab of the Johnson administration issued a statement, saying, “The use of live ammunition is disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation.”
On October 4, when Hong Kong authorities invoked emergency measures to ban protesters from wearing face masks, the foreign secretary released another statement, warning that the authorities “must avoid aggravating [the situation] and instead reduce tensions.”
At the late August G7 summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, he included a sentence in the Leaders’ Declaration, saying, “The G7 reaffirms the existence and importance of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 on Hong Kong and calls for violence to be avoided.”
The 1984 joint declaration promised that Hong Kong’s social and economic systems, which differ from those of China, would remain unchanged, and that the basic human rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents would be ensured.
Given that the Armed Police of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were assembling in Shenzhen along the border with Hong Kong at that time, “violence” in the G7 statement was interpreted as China’s potential military intervention.
In fact, United States President Donald Trump has been cold-hearted toward Hong Kong protests. U.S. and British news media have reported that President Trump promised his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that the U.S. government would remain silent on Hong Kong as part of a deal to settle the U.S.-China trade war. It is also said that Trump banned administration officials from making comments supporting Hong Kong protesters.
However, the U.S. Congress’s proactive engagement on Hong Kong is poised to blow away President Trump’s lack of concern. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would require the State Department to submit an annual report to Congress on the degree to which the Chinese government actions have eroded Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Japan’s National Diet Should Learn From the U.S. Congress
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has kept his comments on Hong Kong virtually unchanged over the past few months. He has reiterated that the Japanese government (1) is gravely concerned about the rising number of people injured in Hong Kong and (2) strongly hopes the pr...