Big Talk

If the U.S. is to Fight, Japan Must Fight First

Tokyo Modern History Research Institute Chairman Michio Ochiai has won five prizes in the “True Interpretations of Modern History” Essay Contest and was also awarded the Prize for Excellence in this year’s third APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize. He exposes China’s deceptions in his prize-winning book The True Nature of the Chinese Communist Party That Deceived Japan and the World: From the Second Sino-Japanese War to the Wuhan Pneumonia. Toshio Motoya spoke with Ochiai about the Japan-China relationship and Japan’s ideal state in the future.

Xi is emulating Mao

(M) Thank you for joining me on Big Talk today. You won the Prize for Excellence in the Adult Division of the 1st Annual “True Interpretations of Modern History” Essay Contest, followed by four prizes in the Honorable Mention category. You were also awarded the Prize for Excellence in the third APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize this year. Congratulations!

(O) Thank you very much. I believe I won these prizes because my writings analyze the modern history knowledge required by Japanese citizens based on causal relationships.

(M) What do you think about Japan’s recent circumstances?

(O) We are facing domestic and foreign crises. Citizens must have a stronger sense of danger, clarify the directions we should proceed, and combine forces to take action.

(M) Your book The True Nature of the Chinese Communist Party That Deceived Japan and the World: From the Second Sino-Japanese War to the Wuhan Pneumonia, which won the Prize for Excellence, is a tour de force that describes in detail China’s deceit throughout history. With a population of 1.4 billion people, China has steadily become a major economic power through force of numbers. And because economic power naturally leads to military strength, Japan is under increasingly heavy pressure from this neighboring country. At the same time the United States is putting its own interests first and decreasing its influence in Asia. I am extremely concerned about whether President-elect Joe Biden can maintain Donald Trump’s hard-line stance against China. Independent nations should defend themselves. This applies to Japan as well. Some people think the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty keeps us safe, but to some degree we cannot feel secure as the U.S. is transforming.

(O) I agree. The U.S. would not open itself up to atomic bomb attacks on our behalf, no matter what the security treaty says.

(M) Nations across the world have formed economic relationships with China, either selling or buying goods. China has long had a culture of bribery, and it uses its economic strength to ensnare powerful figures in other countries, both in the foreground and behind the scenes. China is expanding its influence from Europe to the U.S. As China’s neighbor, Japan may be trapped by China before we know it. We must figure out what to do right now.

(O) China does not base its actions on communism, but rather on the teachings of Sun Tzu, an ancient strategist. But unlike the era he lived, nuclear weapons exist today. A vast territory and large population do not automatically confer military force like in the past. Fifty years ago, former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said the most realistic option is for Japan and Australia to both have nuclear weapons for self-defense.

(M) However, Japan has adopted the Three Non-nuclear Principles. We must do something about those.

(O) Yes. Despite the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the American people would certainly not be okay with New York serving as a target for nuclear missiles on Tokyo’s behalf. The “nuclear umbrella” does not really exist. Nuclear self-defense is the key to protecting our country. We could immediately strike back at Beijing if we had even one nuclear missile. This would totally change the defense situation in the Far East in Japan’s favor.

(M) I also think nuclear armament would be the most economical way for Japan to protect itself. The issue isn’t how many nuclear weapons a country has, but whether it possesses any at all. Greater deterrence is also provided when a country refuses to clearly state whether it has these weapons. Speaking with influential figures in Asian countries, I’ve learned they consider Japan to be a country that could immediately obtain nuclear arms if it wanted to. I think this means Japan is a so-called “nuclear-latent state.” For further deterrence, perhaps one idea is having nuclear weapons that are usually dismantled but could be assembled in a single day if an emergency occurs.

(O) I agree entirely, but I advocate that Japan should explicitly carry out nuclear armament rather than maintaining nuclear latency. Now is the time for us to show our trump card.

(M) Survival of the fittest does rule in the international community. Power means everything in Chinese history as well.

(O) I mentioned Toshio Takashima, a scholar of Chinese literature, in my book. He wrote in China’s Great Thieves: The Men Who Strove for Supremacy that Mao’s Communist Party of China (CPC) was traditionally a group of bandits like the Red Turban rebels who built the Ming dynasty. Takashima said they seem different from a Marxist movement. Although Mao flew the flag of Marxism, he purged a series of CPC leaders behind the scenes. Mao was a dictator with an utter distrust of other humans, and he exercised strong authority in that way.

(M) It seems like Xi Jinping, the current president, looks up to and wants to be like Mao. He abolished the presidential term limit of two terms (10 years) in 2018. I think his aim is to establish his own empire.

(O) Xi is certainly emulating Mao. Because a dictatorship is not a nation based on the rule of law, I think leaders hold on to power because they are afraid of retaliation from those whom they purged unlawfully. Mao stepped down as president after his failed Great Leap Forward made 40 million people starve to death. Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping gained power by cleaning up this mess, and it’s said they started the Cultural Revolution because they feared reprisal. Xi has carried out fairly intense purges as well, and I think he won’t hand over political power because he is afraid of revenge.

Japan stands in the way of China’s expansion into the Pacific Ocean

(M) This troublesome country is our neighbor, but many Japanese people lack sufficient awareness of this. I think that’s the media’s fault. TV programs and newspapers do not report the news honestly. I started the “True Interpretations of Modern History” Essay Contest because I wanted to do what I could to contribute to society. Toshio Tamogami got lots of people talking when he won the first Grand Prize (Fuji Seiji Prize) and was then dismissed from his post. I think that helped wake society up to conservatism and led to the second Shinzo Abe administration in 2012. I have the sense that my continual efforts from the past 12 years are finally bearing fruit recently.

(O) It seems like the times have caught up to you. Thanks to you, I’ve been able to research for many years, been given opportunities to share my views, and have been highly lauded in this way. I am so grateful to you for these things.

(M) Everyone who learns the truth becomes conservative. In the past our educational system has not taught accurate information, and the media has not reported on the truth. This is why people mistakenly believe in falsehoods.

(O) That’s right. They are misguided and easily deceived because they are ignorant. For example, people say that China’s GDP is higher than Japan’s. Basically a country’s GDP is proportional to its population, so of course China’s large population means it has a high GDP. However, Japan still surpasses China for GDP per capita.

(M) China clearly has a hegemonic ideology, and it proposed to the U.S. that they divide up the Pacific Ocean. But Japan is a huge obstacle to China’s expansion into the Pacific.

(O) This ideal of hegemony is totally different from how Japanese people think. As you have seen, if you turn a map upside down, Japan is clearly blocking China’s marine expansion.

(M) China cannot use its army to put pressure on Japan – its favorite technique – since there is an ocean between the two countries. Right now the issue is which of these two countries will control the sea and air. China’s Chengdu J-20 is a high-performance, cutting-edge fifth-generation fighter aircraft, possibly made with stolen American technologies, and the Chinese air force is approaching the same or higher level as Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force. However, in terms of the seas, Japan is said to have the world’s best deep-sea submarine technologies. Although this isn’t made public, Japanese submarines can submerge to 900 meters – much deeper than any other country’s submarines – and launch torpedoes from those great depths. Even American nuclear submarines can only submerge to 500 or 600 meters. China is a nation that appropriates knowledge from around the world. Japan maintains command of the sea thanks to these deep-sea submarines, but one never knows when China will catch up.

(O) Just like the ancient Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, the important thing is to win, no matter what the method.

(M) China has gained economic and military power, and it will use any means possible in its earnest bid to rule the world.

(O) Yes. The U.S. carelessly overlooked these signs of danger.

(M) It’s scary to think that China might gain more power and force the U.S. into a corner in the coming four years under a Democratic president. There was fierce mudslinging during the American presidential election. The U.S. was seen as a model of democracy, but I think the whole world was surprised by this recent election. In Japan it’s unthinkable that a politician would file lawsuits claiming the election itself was fraudulent.

(O) I was astounded to learn that voting rules differ by state.

(M) That’s because the U.S. is a federal republic that places great importance on states’ rights. In some ways total unity is difficult under a federal government, but that’s the reality in the U.S. Japan must think more pragmatically about the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty based on these facts. We need to seriously consider whether the U.S. would take action on our behalf to regain stolen Japanese territory.

(O) The U.S. has declared it will not fight unless Japan does so as well. Despite this, some Japanese people are under the impression that the American army will do everything to protect Japan’s territory and people. That’s a ridiculous misunderstanding.

(M) The U.S. is our ally, but by all rights Japan should fight for itself while the U.S. provides reinforcement. No countries wage war for their allies from the start. Moreover, the U.S. sees less value in defending Japan now that the sun has set on our country and it is no longer the major economic power of the past. I think the issue will be how Japan acts now that it has been abandoned by the U.S.

The Internet has led to increasing conservatism among young people

(O) Japanese people are still brainwashed and believe our country did bad things during World War II. That’s why I’ve worked to gradually unpack these views and clarify causal relationships with historical facts.

(M) I think this is because Japan has no history of being defeated in wars. European countries won wars, lost wars, and were occupied without being swayed by the results of a single war. Japan believed too implicitly that it is the indestructible “land of the gods,” and that a “divine wind” will eventually arrive.

(O) Masanobu Tsuji said, “A man is defeated when he believes he has lost the war.” I think this indomitable fortitude is essential. A fighting spirit provides strength for a renewed attack.

(M) Tsuji was born in my home prefecture of Ishikawa. He was criticized for various things, including his responsibility for Japan’s defeat in the Battles of Khalkhin Gol, but lately people are giving him another look.

(O) His books reveal an immensely serious character.

(M) He was extremely intelligent and joined the General Staff Office at a young age. Recent research on the Battles of Khalkhin Gol shows the Japanese army did not meet a decisive defeat, as people have traditionally believed. In fact, the Soviet Union lost more aircraft, tanks, and soldiers. We know this because many highly classified documents have been released to the public after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

(O) Yes, many classified documents have come to light with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but they are once again being concealed under President Vladimir Putin.

(M) When Putin was prime minister in 1999, he planned and executed a series of bombing incidents at high-rise apartment buildings in Russia. Three hundred people died, the bombings were blamed on Chechen forces, and the Second Chechen War led to Putin’s presidency. I’m sure Putin doesn’t see anything wrong with this, since he served in the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Committee for State Security (KGB). This type of thing would be unthinkable in Japan, but it’s the norm around the world. We must make sufficient preparations for war exactly to avoid fighting in these relentless global circumstances. I still think that nuclear armament would be the most affordable policy to ensure national security.

(O) I agree entirely.

(M) Colonial rule vanished from the world and racial equality was achieved thanks to Japan’s fight in World War II. Many countries were aware of that right after the war, but Japan has repeatedly apologized too many times since then, and more and more people bash Japan because they know complaining will bring Official Development Assistance (ODA) and other financial aid from Japan.

(O) I’ve heard that overseas Chinese politicians serve central roles in the Indonesian government. They distort this history of ethnic independence and portray Japan as an evildoer.

(M) Overseas Chinese across the world yield to China because they want to benefit from its economic power.

(O) It seems they value money more than patriotism.

(M) For the sake of its own interests, Japan should provide ODA to countries that understand Japan’s past and current circumstances, rather than those that accuse us of doing bad things.

(O) I think so, too. Although we are in the midst of a crisis, my mother said Japanese people who have overcome great suffering have hidden reserves of strength. It’s true there are many praiseworthy Japanese people. I believe what my mother said, and I have worked to help revive our nation.

(M) I agree. Society has become a great deal more respectable in the past 10 years or so.

(O) The Internet is one major reason for that. Many young people encounter correct information that inspires them to have presence of mind and sound conservative ideologies.

(M) That’s extremely promising.

Young people should learn about history and participate in politics

(M) In the future Japan may have to stand off against China, which is rapidly amassing power, regarding control of the air and sea. One major facet of this will be strengthening the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) with the U.S., Australia, and India.

(O) Japan could gain greater safety through deterrence provided in particular by the U.S. and India, which are nuclear states. I think we will also have to work with the United Kingdom and other European countries that are increasingly wary of China.

(M) Europe has treated China as an economic partner, not a threat, due to its geographic distance. That way of thinking is now changing.

(O) I think Japan should aim for nuclear armament, but first we should make the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) into a regular army. Some say we should amend the constitution to that end, but no constitutional revision is necessary because the constitution recognizes self-defense. Denying self-defense is unconstitutional, as the constitution exists for that reason.
We should enact an act on special measures to add a military organization (military law, court-martial, and military police regiment) to the JSDF. This would make the JSDF into a regular army and immediately confer military deterrence. Other countries ignore Japan’s constitution, but they recognize military law.
Doing so would normalize the spirit and value system of the Japanese people and they would immediately realize that the constitution, created during the occupation, is bad. People would definitely begin saying we need a constitution that safeguards the Japanese people’s way of life. At that point we should revise the constitution in two phases.
The objective of constitutional change is to abolish the constitution that was created to be beneficial to the occupying army during a temporary period in the postwar era, and to regain a constitution that protects the Japanese people’s way of life. I believe there are five main policies that would be fundamental to that end. These are reverence for the Emperor of Japan, ancestor worship, national defense by our own people, the household legal structure, and the Imperial Rescript on Education. Prewar Japan achieved significant growth according to these, which is why the occupying army destroyed them after the war. This is why Japan is facing difficult challenges like fewer people who get married, declining birth rates, and the increasing need for elderly care.
According to constitutional scholar Osamu Nishi, contemporary Italy has a similar clause in its constitution that prohibits war. However, it interprets the constitution in a way that justifies self-defense and allows for a splendid, regular army. The clause prohibiting war merely prevents invasions, not simply being in other countries. Therefore, Japan should do like Italy has done.

(M) Perhaps that’s the way to go. However, it is extremely difficult for Japan to maintain a balance of power from its position right next to China. I wish that China could somehow be transformed into a decent nation.

(O) That would be difficult. Instead of asking for China’s normalization, I feel we must consider how to protect Japan from China.

(M) World history shows us that no countries have managed to continually rule 1.4 billion people under a single government. I think the most likely outcome is that China will collapse from the inside.

(O) People have been saying for some time that theater commands might declare independence.

(M) I wonder where China’s nuclear weapons are kept.

(O) They are stored at inland locations far from the U.S., including the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China apparently came up with a management system to prevent theater commands from amassing power.

(M) The Soviet Union broke into republics made up of different ethnic groups. I think there are too many Han Chinese for this to be a possibility. I do wish that China would split apart and democratize, since it is such a frightening country…

(O) A population issue facing China is its large number of elderly people and small number of children. I don’t know if this will trigger division, however. As a dictatorship with strong power of the state, China’s ability to concentrate and utilize its resources is its strength. As of now it is successfully leading its 1.4 billion people.

(M) So we must consider how to co-exist with China. I don’t think just being friendly is enough.

(O) I think we can only co-exist if we have the same level of strength. Peter Huang says the Chinese people have little concept of equality between nations.

(M) No negotiation is possible without a backdrop of military power.

(O) I think so. The Chinese ethnic identity involves solely believing in military power. Moral obligation and human feelings mean nothing.

(M) First, it will be important for us to study Chinese history and learn about them. We must investigate what is actually true, not just the face that China presents. The True Nature of the Chinese Communist Party That Deceived Japan and the World: From the Second Sino-Japanese War to the Wuhan Pneumonia is a must-read book for that reason.

(O) Thank you for appraising my book so highly. I definitely hope the Japanese people will read it in this era of crisis. The paper wrapper on the book says, “Modern Chinese history is a museum of lies!” We must always think even more deeply so we are not taken in by these deceptions.

(M) I’ve learned the truth by traveling to 84 countries around the world and speaking with influential figures there. I have written about this in my essays in Apple Town, this magazine, for 30 years under the penname “Seiji Fuji.”

(O) You are an entrepreneur, but you also have also done a great deal to share your beliefs with the world.

(M) Let’s keep working for Japan’s restoration. At the end of the interview, I always ask for a “word for the youth.”

(O) I definitely want them to participate in politics. Out of patriotism, I hope they will run as independents rather than from existing political parties.

(M) I’ve heard that the most talented people don’t want to become politicians these days. Perhaps they must learn about true history to become interested in politics.

(O) That’s right. I wish for them to have correct viewpoints of history and speak out about reviving the way of life of the Japanese people. This can be summarized as the five policies I mentioned before: reverence for the Emperor of Japan, ancestor worship, national defense by our own people, the household legal structure, and the Imperial Rescript on Education. If we work to restore these five main policies, I think voters would overwhelmingly welcome and support them. I truly hope for young people and patriots to join together to re-arm Japan and revise the constitution.

(M) Thank you for sharing such an interesting conversation with me today.

(O) Thank you.

Date of dialogue: December 4, 2020


Michio Ochiai

Born in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1943. Graduated from Hokkaido University and the International Christian University. Ochiai is a modern history researcher specializing in modern Japanese history (the Greater East Asian War) and political thought (international ideology, communism, and fascism). In 2008, his essay “A True Interpretation of Modern History” was awarded the Prize for Excellence in the Adult Division of the 1st Annual “True Interpretations of Modern History” Essay Contest held by the APA Japan Restoration Foundation. His book The True Nature of the Chinese Communist Party That Deceived Japan and the World: From the Second Sino-Japanese War to the Wuhan Pneumonia (Heart Shuppan) won the Prize for Excellence in the third APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize in 2020.