The November issue of WiLL magazine contained a special feature entitled, “A Yell From Around the World: The Splendor of Prime Minister Abe, Who Made Great Efforts.” It included an article by Kotoe Hashimoto, “A Virtuous Spirit: Why did Abe Kneel on Iwo Jima?,” that began as follows:
Abe visited the air base on Iwo Jima in the Ogasawara Islands on April 14, 2013. Iwo Jima has been used as a Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) base after it was returned by the United States in 1957. It has a runway (2,650 meters in length and 60 meters wide) and spare runway built by the U.S. Armed Forces during the war. These are utilized for arrival and departure drills during the nighttime, when noise can be an issue, and for emergency landings by civilian aircraft. JSDF personnel members specialized in bomb disposal are permanently stationed on the island because many unexploded bombs are found there.
The Battle of Iwo Jima took place in February 1945. The Iwo Jima garrison, led by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, was attacked by 110,000 American soldiers under the command of Admiral Richmond K. Turner. (The American name for this operation was “Operation Detachment.”) The Battle of Iwo Jima is known as one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Greater East Asian War; American casualties numbered over 26,000, more than the entire Japanese garrison of about 20,000.
The Japanese garrison caused great harm to the American marine division that was the strongest in the world, but what was the Battle of Iwo Jima? Colonel Hiromichi Yahara (a commander in the Battle of Okinawa) and Kuribayashi (Iwo Jima) both had experience studying abroad in the U.S. In the Japanese military’s shoreline operations to defend the islands, they understood that the Japanese forces would fall to the firepower of the American military. Therefore, they used a tactic of drawing the enemy forces to the interiors of the islands and closing in on them.
Concrete fortifications were built throughout the island, and Japanese soldiers suffered intense heat and thirst inside these shelters where there was little air. They also withstood the toxic sulfur to fight and die for the people of today. This is because, in the event that Iwo Jima was captured, they expected enemy bombers escorted by fighter aircraft would fly from the island’s airfield to strike the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, and many Japanese people would be killed and wounded in strategic bombing.
The American military that attacked Iwo Jima used bulldozers to destroy the shelters where the Japanese soldiers hid and fought, and built runways over these foxholes where their remains are still located.
In other words, the remains of these great men still sleep beneath the runways. There, Abe kneeled and gently touched the concrete– as if touching the fallen soldiers beneath his feet – and spoke to them. The prime minister of Japan kneeled because these remains cannot yet be returned to the soldiers’ family members. This solidified Abe’s resolve to use Cabinet Office funds to collect all the remains of these heroic men who died in the Greater East Asian War.
This sincere demeanor is characteristic of Abe. However, postwar prime ministers have neglected to come to a comprehensive understanding of the war, and have lacked ambition to collect the remains of every single soldier who gave their lives for Japan. This was true when Japan became the world’s number-two economic power through rapid economic growth right after World War II, and is still the case today. The background to these circumstances includes the incorrect historical education conducted in the postwar era, which is based on a masochistic view of history. Although Japan was defeated in World War II, colonies ruled by the Western powers have disappeared from the globe thanks to Japan’s fights with nations such as the U.S., Soviet Union, United Kingdom, China, Canada, and Australia. As a result, no countries have openly engaged in racial discrimination since then. This splendid achievement should go down in world history. If Japan had not fought in World War II, I think the globe would still be ruled by the white, Christian nations, and many other countries would still suffer under white colonial rule. Right now, it is highly important that many Japanese people learn about these facts and come to a correct understanding of World War II.
Some say the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was leaked during the biological weapon development process at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. It spread in an instant from Asia across the world to North America, South America, Europe, and India. Today there are roughly 37 million cases worldwide and approximately 1.1 million deaths. The numbers of cases are particularly large in areas with many white people, and those with many people of mixed white and other descent, such as North America, South America, and Europe. However, there are few cases in East Asian nations with many members of the yellow race, including China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Looking at deaths per 100 million people, the numbers are around 100 times higher in white countries than in Asian countries. Past deaths number about 220,000 in the U.S., about 43,000 in the UK, about 36,000 in India, and about 32,000 in France. More than 10,000 people have died in all of these countries.
“Weapons of mass destruction” refers to nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons. The COVID-19 pandemic – which shows no signs of stopping – has clearly demonstrated that biological weapons such as viruses and bacteria are the most terrifying of all. It is said between 17 and 50 million people died in the Spanish flu pandemic 100 years ago, and that the average lifespan in the U.S. fell by about 12 years during the first year. This and other past pandemics lasted about two years each. Almost one year has passed since the first signs of the COVID-19 crisis, and it seems that it may continue at most until the end of next year.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed one year until the summer of 2021 due to the impacts of COVID-19, and as of now they are scheduled to last 17 days from July 23 to August 8. Because many international sporting events have been resumed since this summer, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach indicated his confidence in September that the Olympics will be held as scheduled next year. However, cases are once again rising in France and the UK, and the numbers are still increasing in the U.S., Brazil, and India. It is highly uncertain whether Japan can accept large numbers of athletes, Olympic executives, and tourists from around the world. I definitely hope the games will be held in a grand way next year, but the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games are already talking about reducing their size. This proposal also includes measures such as cancelling the athletes welcoming ceremony and reducing the numbers of spectators. For instance, we can also imagine that only athletes, executives, and tourists with a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test might be permitted to enter Japan and take part in the Olympics. However, would this be acceptable?
Postponing the Olympics for one year is an unprecedented step, and they could not be delayed a second time considering the schedules of upcoming international sports events. The Olympics have been cancelled due to war, and I assume the Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled due to scheduling difficulties if they cannot go on next summer. Some believe holding them on a reduced scale would be better than canceling. However, Japan’s biggest growth industry up until last year was tourism, and many people looked forward to further growth due to huge numbers of tourists coming from around the world in this Olympic year. We could not expect major economic effects if the games were held only with athletes, executives, and a limited number of overseas tourists.
The issue is whether a vaccine and drugs to treat the virus can be successfully developed and distributed to all people who need them by next July. IOC Vice-president John Coates commented that a useable vaccine would be mandatory. That would allow us to relax restrictions on entry into Japan and at the Olympic venues, and I think we could expect a fair amount of economic effects as well. I keenly hope the Tokyo Olympics can draw many tourists to Japan, even though they have been delayed for a year.
As the November issue of WiLL (which I mentioned at the beginning of this essay) states in its “A Yell From Around the World” special feature, Japan’s longest administration in its history of constitutional government has come to a sudden end. Now that Japan has seemingly lost Abe, it must regain its energy and become a country with a global presence in both the economic and political fields under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The American presidential election will take place in November, and many news outlets are repeating President Donald Trump’s statements that provoke various controversies. However, a Republican president in the U.S. is the best scenario from Japan’s standpoint. Although public opinion polls give the Democratic Joe Biden a 10% lead over Trump, many of these respondents do not voice their support of Trump, and it is certain that his most ardent supporters will go to the polls. It is thought Trump will be victorious because many people who answered in favor of Biden will assume they do not have to actually vote for him because his win is assured. This election is taking place during the pandemic, and American people want their country to be strong. Considering that they have always seen countries that catch up with the U.S. as rivals, I think they will be in favor of Trump, who has taken an unsparing stance against China. That is why Trump will win, and I certainly hope to see him re-elected.
China, led by Xi Jinping, revised its constitution on February 25, 2018 to banish the presidential term limit of two terms totaling 10 years. This would allow Xi to serve a third term from 2028, and it is highly possible that China will become the “Empire of Xi” with a long-term dictatorial system.
China claims jurisdiction over the “nine-dash line” from the international waters in the South China Sea near the Philippines to Fiery Cross Reef near Vietnam. It is building military bases in the South China Sea, establishing a new administrative district there, and stepping up its confrontation with Vietnam.
Although China is a troublesome country from Japan’s standpoint, we cannot move away from it and must maintain a balance of power so we can co-exist with this nation. China has expanded its armaments to become a major military power. To stand off against China, Japan must maintain its control of the air and seas. However, China is developing the J-20 and other new, fifth-generation jet fighters. Even counting just these new-model fighters, China has four times as many aircraft as Japan, and Japan’s control of the air is in danger today. The most important thing will be to maintain control of the seas that surround and protect Japan, which we can regard as a natural fortification. To that end, we must control the deep seas 200 meters and below by equipping our submarines (which are said to be able to submerge to 900 meters) with torpedoes that can be used at great depths. Along with maintaining command of the deep seas, we must have the necessary amount of Type 91 magnetic induction sea mines (the world’s first complex induction-type homing and rising mines) that can be laid by Japanese Marine Self-Defense Force aircraft. If a war breaks out, I think these should be immediately placed in the channels connecting the Sea of Japan with enemy harbors to maintain our control of the seas.
Japan has enjoyed peace not thanks to Article 9 of the constitution, but because we have been protected by the U.S. according to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. We must establish a structure in which Japan can protect itself to become a truly independent nation. The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty should be revised from one of unilateral protection to a treaty of equal, mutual benefits and reciprocal defense. We could say there is an equal alliance only if JSDF personnel were stationed in Guam and Hawaii, just like the American military is stationed in Japan. Only then would Japan become a truly independent country.
October 12 (Monday), 10:00 a.m.