Shinzō Abe, the xenophobic, autocratic prime minister of Japan, has been dismantling Article 9 of the constitution, which forbids acts of war by Japan.
In part, this is driven directly by Donald Trump, who intimated that the US would not defend Japan from military aggression if it didn't pay "its fair share" of the world's military expenses. Abe sent 350 Japanese soldiers to South Sudan in violation of Article 9, and was the first world leader to congratulate Trump after the 2016 election was called for him.
Article 9 was written by General Douglas MacArthur 70 years ago, to prevent Japan from reasserting itself as a belligerent power. This origin story is particularly ironic, given Trump's vocal worship of American generals of yesteryear.
In Jacobin, two American veterans turned antiwar activists report on their tour of Japan's burgeoning antiwar, anti-Abe movement, which is pushing back against Abe's drive to re-militarize the country.
In Japan, Mike and I saw a glimpse of what is possible when a country is able to resist its leaders' demands for war and channel its resources to human development and flourishing. We saw the power of civilian diplomacy. We learned that ordinary Japanese have much more in common with ordinary Americans than we do with our respective leaders who send us off to kill each other in war.
When Mike and I spoke in front of the Diet, five thousand people stood in cold and rainy weather to listen. As we walked a city block up to the stage, hundreds called out to us by our first names — despite the fact that we had only been in the country seven days.
Mike and I have no notable profile; we are simply former American soldiers who went to Japan to support peace, not war. In a country that has embraced peace for seventy years but now fears war, this was national news.
As far-right demagogues rise to power around the world, international solidarity becomes increasingly important. Ordinary working-class people around the world don't want war — their leaders and corporations do. By reaching out to those ordinary people across borders, we can make sure that the machinery of war stays silent.
The Antiwar Tour [Rory Fanning/Jacobin]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Kremlin, CC-BY)