A high-profile launch ceremony for the "Izumo" destroyer was held on August 6th, displaying Japan's militaristic ambitions to the world in the form of this "quasi carrier".
The Izumo was originally the flagship of the Japanese fleet during the war of aggression against China. The selection of this name with all its historical connotations was clearly a deliberate act, and is in keeping with the "glorious naval empire" dream of Japan's right-wing forces. Nor is it in any way coincidental that the naming and the launch ceremony of the new Izumo was arranged to take place on the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In its design the battleship is very clearly more of a battle aircraft carrier than the classification of "frigate" behind which Japan attempts to conceal its true nature.
It has recently been revealed by Japanese media that the country's government will shortly make a pronouncement on the issue of the utilization of the "Rising Sun" flag - the original war flag of the imperial Japanese Army - by Japan's self defense forces. It appears that this statement will assert that the Rising Sun is a symbol of Japan in the same way as the Sun flag. However, the Rising Sun was the flag used in the invasion of China and the occupation and colonization of the Korean Peninsula, and has always been considered by countries such as China as an uncompromising symbol of Japanese militarism.
No-one is likely to forget that in May 2013 Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, arranged to be photographed alongside the Japanese airforce plane numbered "731", a gesture which aroused great controversy The reason is that "731" was the number of the germ war army that conducted grotesque experiments on human beings during WWII. Two months later, on the anniversary of the Lugou Bridge Incident which Japan used to launch its all-out war of aggression against China, Abe made a series of false claims regarding the history of Japan's aggression and its territorial disputes with its neighbors, and attacked China in particular.
The facts above cannot be explained in terms of coincidence or chance, and cannot have taken place without deliberate intent. They combine to show that the phantom of militarism is rising once more in Japan, and that it has deep roots in the soul of some political factions. Japan's right wing has gradually extended its tentacles into the country's power structures, and its views are becoming accepted as mainstream by Japanese public opinion. Too many politicians and too much public opinion are either indifferent to the symbols of militarism that evoke such frightful memories in neighboring countries, or are even prepared to exploit them.
These recent trends in politics, military affairs, and diplomacy have aroused considerable concern with regard to Japan’s future. Looking at Japan’s “soft breakthroughs” of the last ten years, it is difficult to ignore the “hard purposes” behind them.
After the terrorist attacks of 9.11, the U.S. launched the Iraq War, and Japan took advantage of the opportunity to make a series of breakthroughs in terms of military strategies, defense policies, and forces development. It made it possible for Japan to deploy its self defense forces to foreign countries through the "Armed Attack Situation Response Law" and "Special Measures Law for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq". As for its relationships with China and South Korea, Japan’s attitude has always been high-handed and eager to raise disputes on historical and territorial issues. Abe’s reelection as Prime Minister was achieved under the banners of "a rightward heel" and "a tough approach".
In the context of its current conduct, it is apparent that Japan’s comprehensive “soft breakthroughs” have served to eliminate all substance from the exclusively defense-oriented strategy that was imposed on the country after WWII; Japan is already well down the road to abandoning the peace constitution. Whatever adjustments might be made to any constitutional amendment by politicians such as Abe, it is only a matter of time. By that point, even though article nine of the Japan Constitution might still be reserved, all the policy factors that restrain the military forces of Japan from expansionism will have vanished. Japan will be able to relive its “past glories” and re-establish its “leading position” in Asia. This is the hard purpose pursued by Japan’s right-wing forces and their representatives.
These right wing forces and the politicians who represent them are steadily become trouble makers in the Asia-Pacific region. They are treading a dangerous path, and as time goes on, it will become clear that this path is leading them towards a dead end. The international community must deal with the “hard purposes” behind Japan’s “soft breakthroughs” through an uncompromising commitment to the principles of peace and development.