Japan: Self-Defense Forces to be Deployed to Henoko, Local Blogger Issues a Plea

On the evening of May 9, Japanese broadcaster Nippon TV had an update on events surrounding a scientific survey presently being conducted in the Henoko Bay area of Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture (see a report on the reactions of local bloggers to this survey posted last week at GVO). The May 9 broadcast mentioned that the government has decided to bring in the Self-Defense Forces in order to put down the activity of the local protesters. In response to the news, a blogger who runs a blog called Kichi Kensetsu Soshi (Stop construction of the base) argues that the real purpose of bringing in the Self-Defense Forces is not to suppress the protesters’ activity in the area, but to legitimize the existence of the Self-Defense Forces as a military:


The main purpose this time in bringing in the Maritime Self-Defense Forces is not to constrain protesters. If you think about the way that protesters have been suppressed, I think that they could force the operations through by employing private contractors. I don't think they are putting all this effort into bringing out the military just to drive off some peaceful protesters on canoes. Maybe, in the expectation that protesting voices may come from all across Japan, they are bringing out the Self-Defense Forces as a tool to assert the government's clearly misguided initiative which says: “Regardless, the government is going to do this”. I don't know how much the Americans pressured [the Japanese government], nor do I know whether the purpose is to set a precedent in “using the Self-Defense Forces” as a form of “recourse to force”, or whether the purpose is to “not let the Self-Defense Forces be made fools of by Japanese citizens”, or to “force the Japanese citizens to recognize the power of the Self-Defense Forces”. I don't really know the reason, but I don't think that it's wrong to say that this is a forceful measure, involving decisions that provoke strong opposition from the opposition parties, taken in order to present to everyone the Self-Defense Forces as “Japan's military”.


In many cases, I think that a military's special forces tend to be seen as “an elite unit for military operations outside of the home country” or as “anti-terrorist forces”. However, the original purpose of special forces is to bring under control civil commotion disrupting law and order. In other words, their job is to keep under control dissidents within the home country itself. Scenes of the American military putting down armed gangs are often broadcast, however the reason for the existence of a military is to take on this role. And yet, the purpose of the blockades at Henoko is to bring about peace; these are thoroughly non-violent actions. The people pursuing these operations are only demanding that they be spoken to kindly as people, that things be halted and that a dialogue take place. Where is the “insurrection” or “disturbance” in these actions? Citizens, as citizens, are just calling out to other citizens of the same country and saying: “Don't destroy the peace”. What kind of intention does the national government want to signal by sending the military against protesters in canoes?


By taking the lead and ignoring basic human rights protected by the Constitution, the government will repeat the huge mistake it made in the historical “Battle of Okinawa”. If this image becomes a reality, this image in which the military is used to put down common people who have never used violence, who have only demanded peace, then we will have to say that we are moving into an era of the collapse of democracy.

・・第3章 国民の権利及び義務 PART 3」・・


Today's Constitution

“Article 14″: All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin. 2) Peers and peerage shall not be recognized. 3) No privilege shall accompany any award of honour, decoration or any distinction, nor shall any such award be valid beyond the lifetime of the individual who now holds or hereafter may receive it.


Today's shocking news report renders Article 14 meaningless. This is starting to appear most prominently in the form of “discrimination by the national government against Okinawa”. It is clearly written in the constitution that “discrimination against a human being for whatever reason is not permitted”. We should not forget the fact that we chose the government that has taken this step and violated the constitution. I think we should be careful about placing blame on other people for this huge blunder. Based on this, we need to prevent a national historical blunder from being made, and I believe that even just one more person joining us at Henoko to appeal for peace is very important.

1 comment

  • […] Early last week on May 3rd, amid widespread debate and discussion on the topic, Japan celebrated the 60th anniversary of its constitution. The anniversary comes at a time when Japanese citizens and their government are re-evaluating the role of their current constitution and debating its uniquely pacifist nature. With Japan increasingly engaged in combat operations overseas, notably in supporting American operations in Iraq, the existence of the country’s (ostensibly purely defensive) Self-Defense Forces (SDF, in Japanese Jieitai) has come into question time and time again. The problem, for those unaware of the situation, is that the existence of the SDF, and the assertive role it is playing internationally as well as domestically, run contrary to the war-renouncing spirit of the current constitution as enshrined in its preamble and ninth article. […]

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