On September 5, the front pages of all morning papers printed news about the Hong Kong government withdrawing the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. The top article on the first page of the Sankei Shimbun newspaper was entitled, “Hong Kong Withdraws Extradition Amendment Bill.” The Sankei Shimbun analyzes this amendment bill, submitted by the Hong Kong government to the Legislative Council in April 2019, as follows:
The opposition movement rapidly swelled into demonstrations with one to two million participants. This large number vividly indicates the danger felt by the people of Hong Kong, which has a population just around 7.4 million. The protests did not slow down at all, even after the government announced it was postponing deliberations on the amendment bill. In response, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the top leader in the Hong Kong government, declared in a televised speech that the bill would be formally withdrawn on September 4. The protestors were still not satisfied. One of their five demands was the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, which was accomplished. In addition, they call on the government to:
・Establish an independent inquiry commission on police brutality
・Release protesters who have been arrested
・Introduce universal suffrage
According to the article,
Lam refused to establish an independent inquiry commission and stated that the government would instead take measures such as inviting foreign experts to the existing inquiry organization. She also rejected the demand to release arrested protestors as being inconsistent with constitutional government.
Agnes Chow, a leading member of the student group behind the extensive “Umbrella Movement” protests in 2014, tweeted on September 4 that Lam’s announcement about the bill’s complete withdrawal was “too late.” She also said she intends to “keep fighting.”
The September 10 issue of Newsweek included an article entitled, “Demos Continue Despite Arrests of Democratic Faction Leaders.”
The arrests included Joshua Wong and Chow, who led the major democratic movement referred to as the “Umbrella Revolution” in 2014. They have been charged with crimes including “inciting others to participate in unlawful assembly.”
According to the democratic activists, the date of these arrests was no coincidence. August 31, the following day, is the fifth anniversary of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress’s decision on a policy for the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive, which took place in 2017.
The Chinese leaders determined that the chief executive (Hong Kong’s top government leader) would be directly elected, while in essence not recognizing any candidates besides those who are pro-Chinese. This decision incited the Umbrella Revolution protests that year.
The police targeted Umbrella Revolution leaders, but this summer’s protests are strongly characterized as a leaderless movement. Considering how they occurred spontaneously, it seems likely they will continue even after the arrests of well-known activists.
President Xi Jinping is working to build his own empire in China by abolishing the limit of two terms (10 years) that had been maintained by successive generations of past presidents, including Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. At the same time, he is carrying out an expansion policy that includes building military bases on reclaimed reefs in vital sea-lanes for Japan’s marine transport. As a result, Japan will be majorly impacted if Taiwan is annexed by China under a “one country, two systems” policy like Hong Kong. The Japanese media is covering the Hong Kong protest movement to some degree, but the public thinks the issues in Hong Kong do not affect them. However, this is mistaken. When Admiral Timothy J. Keating of the U.S. Pacific Command was visiting China in May 2007, Chinese army leaders suggested jokingly to Keating that the two countries come to an agreement for the U.S. to rule the Pacific Ocean east of Hawaii, and for China to rule the west, after the Chinese navy develops aircraft carriers. Keating gave testimony about this proposal at the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services in March 2008, stating that this indicated a strategic way of thinking by the Chinese army, despite its joking manner. I think China would be closer to accomplishing this plan today if Hillary Clinton, a pro-Chinese Democrat, had won the 2016 presidential election. But luckily for Japan, Trump was victorious, just as I had predicted during the campaign season.
China leased Hong Kong to the United Kingdom for 99 years. After the handover in 1997, the “one country, two systems” principle was applied to Hong Kong as a special administrative region of China. The conditions for the handover were that no socialist policies would be enacted and a high degree of autonomy would be guaranteed during the 50 years until 2047. The people of the UK and Hong Kong approved these conditions because they thought China would become a democratic country after 50 years. However, the Communist Party of China (CPC) single-party rule has not collapsed in the 22 years since the handover, but is actually growing stronger backed by immense economic power driven by more than one billion workers laboring for ultra-low wages. Furthermore, advances in information technology (IT) allow the Chinese government to obtain detailed personal information, such as cashless payment data that reveals lifestyles, behaviors, etc. It is said China surveils its citizens with 176 million security cameras across the nation, combined with facial recognition. This system is used in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) to monitor where people go and whom they meet with. They are suddenly detained and sent to prison camps, with no reasons or release dates given. Satellite images show an increasing number of detention facilities where it is said that one to two million are imprisoned. This clearly demonstrates that China is not a country with a constitutional government. It is fully possible that China might break its 50-year “one country, two systems” promise to forcibly bring Hong Kong under its control.
China has used military force in the past to subdue its own citizens, including the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Cultural Revolution from 1960 to the 1970s, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the oppression of Falun Gong in 1999, the 2009 Urumqi riots, and the oppression and confinement of Uyghurs that is still going on today. Considering this, there is the risk that China will turn its eyes to Hong Kong next, followed by Taiwan and then Japan.
If the Hong Kong government yielded to the protestors and implemented universal suffrage, I think the Chinese government would grow more frantic to prevent this trend from spreading to the Chinese mainland. The Belt and Road Summit 2019 was held in Hong Kong on September 11 for government officials and businesspeople from involved countries, and a military parade celebrating the People’s Republic of China’s 70th anniversary will take place this October in Beijing. Xi wasn’t able to stop the demonstrations by September, but it is highly possible he will use mainland armed police for large-scale citizen oppression to stifle the protests before the military parade in October. I feel the international public opinion is the only thing preventing the Chinese government from carrying out another Tiananmen Square massacre, when it killed 10,000 of its own citizens. Trump has given a warning, but Japan must also should use any means to send warning so the People’s Liberation Army will not utilize armed policemen to brutally stifle the Hong Kong protests.
China has a population of 1.4 billion, of whom 80 million are members of the CPC. About 30 million of these members comprise a very small, privileged class that enjoys luxurious lifestyles and freely travels to Japan and other foreign countries. The remaining over 1.3 billion Chinese people suffer from poverty and are not able to travel abroad. In addition to Muslims in the XUAR, Falun Gong members and Christians are still targets of intense oppression. The Japanese media is shackled by the Sino-Japanese Journalist Exchange Agreement and cannot freely convey the truth about China, since media outlets that report news that is disadvantageous to China can no longer send special correspondents there. Many Japanese companies have expanded into China because they believed these consistently positive reports on China written through rose-colored glasses. Most of these companies have suffered wretchedly; their businesses have failed, the facilities they invested in have been seized, and they have been forced to pay huge amounts of retirement money. The harmful effects of China’s one-party rule should be correctly shared in Japan, but it would be impossible for these private-sector information media outlets to resolve this issue by themselves, although they are the ones who entered into the agreement. The national government must take an active concern in this so the Japanese media has the right to report freely on China.
The Hong Kong crisis is also a crisis for Taiwan and Japan, and a strong Japanese-American alliance is the only way to withstand it. Abe will be in office until September 2021, the limit of his three terms (nine years) as LDP president. This was made possible by amending the party regulations that originally permitted only two terms. In the U.S., Trump was under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller since right after his inauguration about suspicions that he collaborated with Russia during the election. No direct proof of collusion was found, and Attorney General William Barr announced in March 2019 that the evidence was insufficient to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. Based on this, Trump declared he was found innocent, and he has overcome his biggest challenge, meaning his re-election is certain. In that case, he would be in office until 2024. I think this time period – with a friendly Japanese-American relationship under Trump and Abe – is a major opportunity for Japan, and I believe we must enact multiple policies during this time to give Japan independent self-defense capabilities. Japan and the U.S. should also work together to put a stop to China’s expansion. That is why the LDP regulations should be revised again to allow Abe to serve a fourth term (while he cultivates a successor), extending his term of office until 2024, just like Trump. Over the next five years, the constitution should be amended twice to eventually position the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) as a national army, abolish the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, and conclude a nuclear sharing agreement with the U.S., thereby striking a nuclear balance. The U.S. and Japan should then work together closely to oppose China.
The U.S. believes South Korea is already under Chinese control. One piece of evidence is that South Korea ended its General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan and then immediately entered into one with Thailand, which is strongly influenced by China. China is steadily expanding its power across Asia through its “One Belt, One Road” economic initiative and military activities in the South China and East China Seas. I hope many Japanese people and media outlets will comprehend this, and that they will not be indifferent to what happens in Hong Kong going forward.
I introduced the book Excuse for Pro-Japanese by Kim Wan-seop in last month’s essay. Many people told me this gave them a correct historical awareness about the Japanese-South Korean relationship, so here I would like to enumerate the main points of this book, in Kim’s own words:
Japan must revise its constitution to make the JSDF into an official army and begin full-fledged armament.
Perhaps the U.S. should apologize for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of citizens by using Hiroshima and Nagasaki as sites to test the capabilities of its nuclear bombs, which were new weapons to kill and wound massive numbers of people.
Japan’s Greater East Asian War was a suitably valid, correct war according to the international circumstances of the time.
Japan was justified in fighting past wars, but Germany was not. Japan had to fight in order to survive, while Germany fought to obliterate other ethnic groups and gain power.
During the war, human lives were treated as trivial, like insects. It was a time when people who were dragged onto battlefields were happy just to survive. They starved to death every spring, when there were no crops, and many also died at once from infectious diseases. It is unnatural to reproach Japan according to today’s standards for comfort women that were brought into the war against their wishes for several months.
China invaded the peaceful Tibet for the ridiculous pretense of liberating it from imperialism. It massacred more than 1.2 million of the six million Tibetans.
During Mao Zedong’s power struggle – the so-called “Cultural Revolution” – the zealous Red Guards all carried copies of the Little Red Book as they traveled around China and slaughtered millions of blameless people.
All of the wars Japan fought before the Pacific War (from the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894 to the Russo-Japanese War and Second Sino-Japanese War) were merely territorial disputes of the type occurring everywhere across the globe. The logic of imperialism is that powerful countries seize many regions, and weak countries are snatched away. Defeated countries like Japan must quietly endure being seen as war criminals. If they win a war, they become victorious nations who receive major benefits and act in a self-important way. Japan’s sole “crime” was losing World War II.
South Korea was not a victorious nation, and its demands for reparations from Japan are not worth considering from a global perspective. Japan gave up on Taiwan and Sakhalin after World War II. Korea was fully integrated with Japan, and Japan asked the U.S. to treat it as a part of Japan, not as a colony. The victorious nations denied this request and separated Japan from South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, and Sakhalin to divide Japan into five regions that were then occupied.
From our viewpoint, we were lucky that South Korea was ruled by our neighbor Japan rather than Russia, England, or France.
Japan regarded Korea as a newly added part of the country, rather than as a colony, and spared no expense to invest in it.
Our country was not stolen from us – we received a better ruler in the form of Japan. This was a clear improvement and a natural choice for the Korean people.
Japan governed Korea in an exceedingly well-mannered, humane way.
It is also highly significant that Japan, a colored nation, beat a strong white nation in a war.
It is said the Japanese government provided subsidiary aid of up to 20 million yen to South Korea at times, which was 20% of Japan’s total budget.
Japan’s defeat in World War II was an unfortunate circumstance for the people of Asia.
Religion has the most power in the most immature societies.
Religion has relatively strong clout in the U.S. and Eastern Europe, possibly because the residents of these areas are relatively immature when compared to white society as a whole.
Japanese Shinto is the most perfect religion created by humankind.
It is said that 20,000 Japanese Army soldiers from Korea and 20,000 from Taiwan are deified at Yasukuni Shrine. Considering that Koreans killed in action comprise less than one percent of Japan’s war dead – and also comparing the populations of these nations – tells us that Japan carried out fair, upright wars.
Very few Japanese people know of Kim’s book, Excuse for Pro-Japanese. If they did, I imagine Japan would not have been forced to apologize for things that did not happen, or to pay money for temporary resolutions. I also think Japan would not be subservient to South Korea, which shamelessly demands undeserved apologies and keeps asking for money. Going forward, Japan must speak the truth and stop indulging South Korea.
September 19 (Thursday), 2019, 6:00 p.m.