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Japan’s Embrace of a Phoney War on Terror

category international | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Sunday May 31, 2009 15:05author by Maidhc Ó Cathail Report this post to the editors

A recent book by Gavan McCormack documents how Japan has become a "client state" of the United States, an indispensable ally through its uncritical support of the global American empire. However, a closer examination of the forces driving recent US wars in the Middle East suggests that America may in fact be serving the interests of one tiny country in the region.

Japan may be “in the American Embrace,” as Gavan McCormack’s Client State cogently argues, but in whose embrace is America?

In Client State: Japan in the American Embrace, Gavan McCormack demonstrates how Japan’s apparent nationalist turn owes much to the need to conceal the country’s increasing subordination to American imperial designs. However, a closer examination of the driving forces behind the US Empire in the 21st century suggests that both countries may be serving a quite different agenda.

Rightly described as a “masterful” analysis by fellow Japan expert Chalmers Johnson, McCormack’s 2007 book expertly documents how Japan’s postwar “peace constitution” has been steadily attenuated to the point of meaninglessness, as Tokyo has consistently bowed to pressure from Washington to become more active in its support of US hegemony, culminating in a “merger” of their military forces in the wake of 9/11.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a freelance writer living in Japan who writes a monthly political column for Kansai Time Out magazine, in which this article was originally published. He also contributes a monthly column to the Irish language internet magazine Beo!

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author by Eanna Dowlingpublication date Mon Jun 01, 2009 01:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There I was on a balcony in the western suburbs of Tokyo, taking in the scene. Immaculatley planned, all of the residents of the many 14 storey appartment complexes live within 15 minutes walk of a train station, shopping centre, primary, secondary and third level schools. Overhead, a steady stream of helicopters interrupted the everyday noises of everyday people.

I asked my host about the choppers. "Americans, flying to Yokohama," I was told. Later that night over a few beers at a Yakitori restaurant downtown, I learned more. There has been a permanent US military presence in Japan since the Second World War. Warships in US designated harbours. US Air Force bases. Military bases. Nuclear weapons on submarines operating out of US bases on Japanese land. Approximately 40,000 US troops are stationed there, though ex President Bush reduced the numbers during the invasion of Iraq. The Japanese taxpayer foots the bill, part of the post war treaty that gave the US responsibility for "protecting" Japan.

It is little wonder that Japan supports US policy. The two nations are the leaders in corporate globalisation. US culture exerts the strongest foreign influence on Japanese life, much like in Ireland. And a permanent US army occupies the country. While the two nations retain separate identities, they have many common interests. Despite past conflict, citizens and business people from both countries have sought and discovered common ground, and successfully sustained peace and commerce.

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