Akihisa Nagashima earned master’s degrees from Keio University and Johns Hopkins University and then worked as a researcher, even serving as the first Japanese researcher on the American Council on Foreign Relations. Afterwards he took up a new career in the world of politics and became a member of the House of Representatives. Toshio Motoya spoke with Nagashima – who has served in important positions as a specialist in diplomacy and defense issues inside the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) – about topics including the future Japan-United States relationship and the Constitution of Japan.
Motoya Thank you very much for joining me on Big Talk today. You have also attended my wine gathering and Shoheijuku school, and I have long felt that we have similar ways of thinking. I wanted to have you on Big Talk earlier than this, but this is the timing that worked out.
Nagashima Thank you for inviting me, and I look forward to speaking with you.
Motoya I am close with Eiichiro Washio, who is a House of Representatives member from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) like yourself. When I get together with him we always talk about you.
Nagashima Is that so? Last summer I went to Washington, D.C. with Washio and visited the home of strategy researcher Edward Luttwak.
Motoya Really? I’ve heard a lot about Luttwak from my friend Tomoharu Washio, who is a professor at Kwansei Gakuin University, so I tried reading his books. According to Luttwak, the U.S. does not want Japan to become a truly independent nation, but it desires Japan to be a strong ally. That’s why the U.S. is extremely vigilant regarding Japan drawing closer to Russia.
Nagashima That’s just the sort of frank statement I would expect from Luttwak. I think that must be what the U.S. truly feels. However, I am constantly on guard against the imprudent way of thinking that says the U.S. has a unified intention. There are various views held by – and conflicts about interests between – groups such as Washington, D.C. and New York City; the Republican and Democratic Parties; the White House and Congress; east and west coasts; and white, black, and Spanish people. When one speaks about the “American” point of view, it is necessary to carefully analyze just which America we are talking about.
Motoya Lately I am advocating that Japan must “break the curse of the atomic bombs” and create true Japan-America friendship, which is also the title of my essay in this issue of Apple Town. In addition to Japan, the U.S. is also under this curse.
Nagashima What type of curse?
Motoya The U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan in the latter period of World War II. The U.S. knew from various sources that Japan wanted to capitulate, so it did not drop these bombs in order to end the war. The U.S. had given massive amounts of military aid to the Soviet Union to help it defeat Nazi Germany on the European front, turning it into a military monster. After Nazi Germany surrendered, it was inevitable that the Soviet Union would step up its activities to communize the world – spanning from Asia to Africa – and that World War III would break out when the U.S. tried to prevent this. Therefore, the dropping of these bombs was an action to restrain the Soviet Union and prevent the world from being communized. That’s why the U.S. delayed giving an answer to Japan about the continuance of the Emperor System, its first condition for surrender, in order to buy time.
Nagashima I see. In addition to the Soviet Union, the U.S. has created horrible monsters in the postwar period by giving military aid to Afghanistan and Iran. One can say most of the War on Terror since 9/11 has been an effort to deal with this aftermath.
Motoya Yet dropping the atomic bombs was a criminal act. The U.S. had to create a story in which it had no choice but to bomb Japan – a bad country – in order to end the war, which was a way of rationalizing what it had done. That’s why historical facts have been warped and Japan has been made to take responsibility for sins such as carrying out an aggressive war, slaughtering 300,000 people in the Nanking Massacre, and forcibly transporting 200,000 Korean comfort women. Of course the U.S. knows that the Nanking Massacre and comfort women stories are fabrications, but it can not admit that as doing so would mean the U.S. would assume responsibility for its sins. This is the curse of the atomic bombs that the U.S. is under.
Nagashima It’s certainly true that the Nanking Massacre was mentioned during the Tokyo Trials, but was the comfort women story created by the Allies? I thought this story was fabricated by Seiji Yoshida and then spread by “humanist” American intellectuals.
Motoya The atomic bombs caused exceedingly tragic damage. But if they had not been dropped, it is possible that all of the countries bordering the Soviet Union would have been communized, and the world would still be suffering under communism today. Before that, tens of millions of people might have died in World War III. Japanese people should understand that – according to the American thinking based on its national interests – the U.S. had to drop the atomic bombs in order to achieve its great cause of postwar world hegemony and protecting the liberal faction. In this way, we should break the curse of the atomic bombs. If we can do this, there will be no need for Japan to be continually portrayed as a bad country. If the U.S. were to negate the fabricated stories created to dishonor Japan – such as Japanese aggression, the Nanking Massacre, and comfort women – then China and South Korea would no longer bring up the Nanking Massacre, forcible transport of comfort women, or sexual slavery stories.
Nagashima That is a very interesting view. It seems unlikely that this curse can be broken in a day. People say it took 100 years for Napoleon’s good name to be restored.
Motoya This curse has lasted for 70 years, so it won’t be broken at a moment’s notice. However, I think this year is an opportunity to do so. Prime Minister Abe is preparing a statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, and I feel he should put aside the Murayama and Kono Statements of the past and incorporate everything he is thinking right now. Among these, I think he should say that Japan won’t censure the U.S. about the atomic bombs and invite the U.S. to have a conversation about the truth. This would lead to genuine friendship in the Japan-U.S. relationship of the future. President Barack Obama is becoming a lame duck, so it is okay if things become a bit strained with him. The American Republican Party has gained majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives, raising the possibility that the next president will be a Republican. We should fully repair this relationship when a member of the Republican Party, which is very pro-Japan, gains power.
Nagashima Yet the Republican Party is not always friendly to Japan… It wouldn’t be that simple. Regardless of faction, leaders who can think strategically have a deep understanding of the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance. For instance, Hillary Clinton – who is widely talked about as a prominent prospect for the next Democratic president – is a strong advocate of a firm alliance. On the other hand, Robert Zoellick, former secretary of state and former president of the World Bank, is a Republican yet he is clearly in favor of appeasing China by skipping over the alliance between the U.S. and Japan.
Motoya Asserting one’s national interests is the foundation of diplomacy. Nations do not just listen to and obey what other countries have to say. Until the end of the Cold War Japan had to abstain from speaking in ways that would disturb the postwar order or cause internal rifts as one member of the liberal faction. But the circumstances changed after the end of the Cold War; the hypothetical enemy of the U.S. was switched from the Soviet Union to Japan and Germany, its economic rivals. While the U.S. worked to win the war by expending blood, sweat, and money, Japan and the Newly Industrializing Economies (NIES) grew economically by profiting while others fought the Cold War. If things had continued that way, the U.S. would have lost to Japan even though it defeated the Soviet Union. Therefore, the U.S. caused the Asian currency crisis in 1997. But from an American standpoint, this was probably unavoidable.
Nagashima It’s true that the Japan-U.S. relationship should have been reset according to a new paradigm when the Cold War ended. Toshiki Kaifu and Kiichi Miyazawa were the prime ministers at that time, and I think they bear great responsibility. Efforts were made to redefine the alliance by fixing its position as for the public good – for peace and stability in the Asian region – rather than an alliance against the Soviet Union. But absolutely no efforts were made for a reset, including ridding Japan of the Tokyo Trials historical view, like breaking the curse of the atomic bombs as you have mentioned.
Motoya They were only in charge of the government for around two years. There are very many Japanese prime ministers who only serve for roughly two years. The reason for this is the “stealth complex” comprised of graduates from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Law that engages in quiet cooperation and rules Japan from the shadows, obstructing the creation of a long-lived government. These people work with the U.S. For example, they engaged in harmonious collusion and controlled the government by divulging Kakuei Tanaka’s involvement in the Lockheed bribery scandals. The domination of Japan by a minority group in the shadows is a normal practice for American and European colonial rule. During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 the Hutu slaughtered the Tutsi, but there was no difference between these two ethnic groups. Belgium, which colonized Rwanda, built an efficient, indirect system of government by making the Tutsi (a comparatively affluent minority group that owned many domestic animals and other assets) into the rulers and everyone else into the Hutu, the class to be ruled.
Nagashima Speaking of the American government, there is only one year and several months left in Obama’s term of office, and I agree that there is a high possibility of a Republican president being elected. But I don’t think understanding of Japan will increase drastically with the inauguration of a Republican government. Rather, I hope Hillary Clinton will be elected, even though she is a Democrat.
Motoya In the U.S. there are the pro-Japan and pro-China factions, and it is said that the pro-China faction is increasing lately. We Japanese should work to fix this. To that end it is essential to transmit information in English, which I do via Apple Town. I think Japan should establish a “Ministry of Information” with a budget of 300 billion yen and 3,000 employees. They should check news reports from across the world 24 hours a day and immediately object to any reports that are disadvantageous to Japan. After all, information strategy warfare – in which lies are spread all over – is taking place across the world at all times.
Nagashima If you repeat a lie 100 times, it becomes the truth. As you say, Americans in the pro-China faction are increasing because the Chinese market dazzles them. But more members of Congress in multiple factions are becoming wary of China, and I think Japan should urgently cooperate with this group. I believe that, as China grows in strength, the realms in which it is incompatible with the U.S. will rapidly expand including human rights and environmental destruction, in addition to military strife.
Motoya That’s right. Japan’s annual defense spending is roughly five trillion yen, but the U.S. is decreasing its annual military spending by an amount close to that. Because of this reduction, it is possible that a vacuum will be created in East Asia due to causes such as the U.S. moving its Marine Corps from South Korea and Okinawa to Guam. China has stopped fixing its borders by warring with all the nations with which it shares land borders, and has begun advancing into the ocean. Apparently, Timothy J. Keating (commander, U.S. Pacific Command) received a halfway serious proposal from a top brass in the Chinese Army, asking that the U.S. manage the area east of Hawaii and China manage the area west of it. China is frequently dispatching official ships and battleships into the East China Sea (including the Senkaku Islands), as well as Vietnamese and Philippine territorial waters in the South China Sea. The most effective method to maintain a power balance in this region would be for Japan to possess nuclear weapons, although the U.S. will not approve this. Therefore, I think Japan should at least ask the U.S. if it can participate in the nuclear sharing arrangement together with the four NATO countries.
Nagashima Setting aside the question of nuclear arms, Japan must strategically utilize China’s expansion policy and fully join hands with the U.S. In particular, collaboration between the U.S. and Japan in the new domain called the “global commons” – such as space and the cyber realm – will have life-or-death importance in the future. Rather than attacks by nuclear weapons, nothing could be done if the systems that support weapons systems were shut down in a preemptive attack such as by satellite weapons of destruction or cyber strikes. After all, we could not wage counterattacks even if we possessed powerful nuclear retribution abilities.
Motoya To that end as well, we must break the curse of the atomic bombs. I mentioned the fabricated history that has been rooted among Japanese people, such as the Nanking Massacre and comfort women stories. The U.S. conducted the War Guilt Information program (WGIP) during the occupation, used the Press Code to bind the media, and employed Japanese censors to censor documents. In these and other ways, it brainwashed the Japanese people in a very skillful manner. The trend of the censors who benefitted from Japan’s war defeat has been inherited into the stealth complex. They are in charge of important areas in Japan including the bureaucracy, legal circles, and media.
Nagashima I see. Jun Eto’s A Closed Space for the Expression of Views is a famous book that discusses the severe thought control that Japanese people were subjected to under the occupation. I read it when I was a student and was once again astonished by the occupation policy that continually put the Japanese people under a spell in the postwar era.
Motoya I have visited 81 countries across the world and spoken with important figures in these nations. All countries appraise Japan very highly. There are only three anti-Japanese countries in the world: South Korea, China, and Japan. Yet Japanese National Diet members are not aware of this.
Nagashima One can say this is the result of postwar education by the Japan Teachers’ Union. The recent trend of growing conservatism in speech and expression is in some ways a backlash against the masochistic view of history that was spread by the so-called “progressive people of culture” from around 50 years after the war.
Motoya People would certainly become more conservative if they knew the truth. We need to break the curse of the atomic bombs for that purpose as well.
Nagashima I think it’s amazing that you are thinking beyond merely criticizing the U.S. for dropping the atomic bombs, where the discussion usually ends. Your opinion that we must base our thinking on how the U.S. was stressing its national interests is an important viewpoint.
Motoya We must realize that the military-industrial complex holds the power in American politics. One theory says this complex ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to allow Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson to step up and expand the Vietnam War. It’s fair to say that war is a public-works project in the U.S.
Nagashima It’s true that the U.S. wages war every 10 years or so. These conflicts have included the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, and the current conflict with the IS.
Motoya Yet we must understand the will of the U.S.
Nagashima I am not simply for or against the U.S.; I stress that Japan must utilize the U.S. Japan should utilize American power while maintaining its independence. We should have a unique strategy and conceive of how to use the U.S. to achieve our strategic objectives. To that end, we must collect information and be capable of analyzing it. The National Security Council (NSC) was founded in the Prime Minister’s Official Residence at the end of 2013, but I must say that the finishing touches have not been made with the necessary information integration organization still incomplete.
Motoya I agree entirely. Today Japan lacks thinking that reflects on the common knowledge of the world. Looking at history, the world has been transformed according to the logic of power. Survival of the fittest rules, and information strategy warfare has been essential to achieve hegemony. Japan attaches importance to the samurai spirit of chivalry and believes that strategies are fundamentally unfair, but during the Russo-Japanese War Colonel Motojiro Akashi’s maneuver in Europe of providing support to the Russian Revolution greatly contributed to Japan’s victory. Japanese statesmen today should regain the sense from that time, but the stealth complex cannot understand this common sense of the world.
Nagashima How do you think we should fight against the stealth complex?
Motoya I think it would involve increasing the number of pro-Japanese politicians like yourself. There are pro-American and pro-Chinese politicians in both the DPJ and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), but the pro-Japan faction is very small. Inside his party, Abe is also a minority. During the 2012 election in which he was reelected to the post of LDP president, Abe ran together with Nobutaka Machimura, who is also a member of the Seiwakai. Machimura was hospitalized for an illness midway through, and at that time I strongly encouraged National Diet members in the Machimura faction to not let him step down. As a result, the votes were split, a final vote took place between Abe and Shigeru Ishiba, and Abe was victorious. Abe won the December 2014 general election, which solidified the foundation of his government. But the group that does not want Japan to become a decent country is attempting to create a scandal regarding the donations – around the level of hundreds of thousands of yen – by corporations that received subsidiary arid.
Nagashima But this scandal attack will definitely end in failure. There happened to be no cases of this in my office, but we are not aware of whether a corporation is receiving subsidiary aid when we are given a donation. After all, more subsidiary aid is being given to corporations such as those that are increasing wages. I think it must be difficult for the corporate side to understand this.
Motoya Yes, many corporations are receiving subsidiary aid to switch to equipment with better energy efficiency as part of their environmental measures. Just like the pension payment default issue of the past, it seems like this will apply to many National Diet members even if they do not have any ill will. In any case, the National Diet should be a place of discussion yet it has become simply a place for criticism.
Nagashima It has. Now that this has spread even to Representative Katsuya Okada, we must stop this investigation. Attacking the government in this way is a tactical failure that will not improve the evaluation of the DPJ.
Motoya Speaking further about the DPJ National Diet members, there is the issue of whether the statement made to NHK Chairman Katsuto Momii (who attended the meeting) was a belligerent one… Of course, there were issues with Momii’s response as well (laughs). The DPJ must create a party platform.
Nagashima No, it made one two years ago in 2013.
Motoya It seems like that platform is not being fully protected. There are some people in the DPJ, like yourself, who I share the same way of thinking with. On the other hand, there are also people who have a way of thinking that resembles the Communist Party. It is truly a benefit society for winning elections. I think the DPJ’s lack of a consistent thinking was why it was forced to step down from governing three years ago.
Nagashima I do not refute that.
Motoya Political parties should be formed of people who agree on policy. They only obtain power by increasing the number of citizens who support this party.
Nagashima Yes, yet The Party for Future Generations – which was comprised of people with the same way of thinking – was not successful in the recent election.
Motoya During the 2012 election the people’s dissatisfaction flowed to the Japan Restoration Party (which was referred to as a “third power”) and many candidates were elected. The name “Restoration” was recently taken by Osaka. In the election after the party’s name was changed, it did not win. Perhaps holding a snap election at that time was a strategy to destroy The Party for Future Generations.
Nagashima If so, why did Abe want to crush The Party for Future Generations?
Motoya More than Abe, it is thought that the pro-American, conservative factions in the New Komeito Party (NKP) and LDP worked to smash The Party for Future Generations (a truly conservative party) in order to obstruct the trend of a conservative alliance between the LDP and The Party for Future Generations.
Nagashima I see. Still, conservatives split up frequently.
Motoya That’s true. I believe that Japan will not become a decent country if the LDP/NKP alliance is not severed. If conservative DPJ members like yourself joined together with people who have truly conservative ways of thinking, created a new party, and formed a conservative alliance with the LDP, I think Japan could be made into a decent nation. Speaking frankly, it will be impossible for the DPJ to become the ruling party once again. Sooner or later the conservative faction in the DPJ will have to make some sort of decision.
Nagashima I am fully resolved to that. Right now I am judging the appropriate timing and making preparations with kindred souls such as Washio.
Motoya On the other hand, politicians must win elections. I hope you will gradually increase your number of supporters and take some kind of action. The Shoheijuku will endorse you and your comrades. In the recent general election 75% of the candidates recommended by the Shoheijuku were elected – we will endorse people from any faction as long as they can act in light of Japan’s national interests. At the end of the interview I always ask for a “word for the youth.”
Nagashima The English word “constitution” can also mean “structure” or “spine.” Japan has lost its spine since the end of World War II. It would be significant for Japan to create its own constitution even if it ended up containing the same text. I hope that more young people will be able to work with dedication to that end.
Motoya It is only natural for a nation to draft its own constitution, and it is bizarre that the media – which is bound by the Press Code – blasts people who criticize the current constitution. As for constitutional amendment, it seems like the Abe administration will start by establishing a new state of emergency clause. Perhaps this is because this area seems more likely to obtain approval rather than controversial topics such as Article 9. But is that acceptable? If nothing else, we should immediately revise the preamble of the constitution.
Nagashima I agree entirely. Thinking realistically, statements such as “we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world” are absurd when one considers real international politics. The source of this is the draft by Douglas MacArthur, which read, “Japan shall entrust its defense and protection to the high ideals controlling human relationship now stirring mankind” (Section 1, Paragraph 2). It was the model for Article 9 of the constitution, which advocates for the renunciation of war, renunciation of military forces, and denying the right of belligerency of the state. These “high ideals controlling human relationship now stirring mankind” were dispelled shortly after by the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but afterwards this spineless constitution has been guarded with religious zeal.
Motoya The preamble postulates Article 9. It only makes sense that some concessions will have to be made so that Abe can become the first prime minister who revises the constitution, but I think we should change the preamble first.
Nagashima In detailed discussions on the right to collective defense, through consultations with the NKP it ended up being discussed at the level of the individual right to self-defense.
Motoya The Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) is a military that can only do things on a so-called “positive list” written according to law. Yet armies across the world are administered according to “negative lists” that determine what they must not do. If we do not follow international standards for waging war, I think international contributions such as peacekeeping operations (for which efforts are being made to approve the activities via permanent law) will be hindered. In any case, as the first step to all of these things it will be important to break the curse of the atomic bombs in this, the 70th year after the war.
Nagashima Yes. It has been very interesting to talk with you about the curses in Japan and the U.S. stemming from the atomic bombs.
Motoya Thank you for joining me today.
Born in 1962. After graduating from the Department of Law, Faculty of Law, Keio University in 1984, he graduated from the Department of Political Science in 1986. He received an LL.M. in Constitutional Law from the Keio University Graduate School of Law in 1988. After serving as a government-financed secretary to a member of the House of Representatives and visiting researcher at Vanderbilt University in the United States, Nagashima earned his M.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University in 1997. In 1997 he became the first Japanese researcher on the American Council on Foreign Relations. After returning to Japan, he served as a senior researcher at The Tokyo Foundation before being elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in 2003. He has since been elected for five consecutive terms. In the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government he has held positions including special advisor to the prime minister and senior vice-minister of defense.