Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Going to war?

I went up to English club again tonight. It was just a small gathering with four of us in all, but largely interesting and thought-provoking as we looked through an article written by George Monbiot for the Guardian on Iran's nuclear aspirations. Take a look, it's interesting. Anyway, the topic of discussion for most of the evening hovered around American politics/the UN Security Council's future/Japan going to war. I was surprised to find that two out of three of the Japanese folks present tonight genuinely felt that Japan was edging towards an all-out war with another nation. Of course, when I casually asked the question "Who against?" they were less eager in response. I can understand, however, the feelings of most Japanese citizens when they look at how their politics has been developing recently. Japanese politicians seem increasingly interested in militarization as opposed to the Japanese tradition of non-direct involvement. The Japan Times regularly runs op-ed columns written by right-wingers who would like to see Japan take a more hands-on approach in world affairs. I was told tonight that in a poll taken by NHK, Japan's equivalent of the BBC, 50% of the population said they would like to see Japan get a permanent seat on the Security Council, compared with just 30% ten years ago. Apparently, being a part of the Security Council has always been thought of as involving too many undesirable risks and responsibilities, and it's hard to see how the living standards of ordinary Japanese citizens would get any better as a result. Wouldn't it just be better for the Japanese to trade like maniacs rather than fight like maniacs? Anyhow, opinions are changing, and Japan's reputation for being a benign nation, too busy enjoying it's own wealth to get involved in disputes between nations over on the other side of the world is beginning to look questionable.

What the folks tonight were really concerned with, I think, was the fear of japan being exposed to, and becoming the target of terrorist attacks as a result from closer military cooperation with the US. That and the whole North Korean threat. That's understandable, especially when you see the news of all these kidnappings and bomb attacks in cities across the world, and speeches made by unreasonable North Korean military officials about scorching the place. Half of this country just wants a quiet life, and who can argue with that? The other half - who knows how far the aspirations go? Japan now seems to have ideological decisions to make. To get involved, or not to get involved. This is the question.