Hyping up fears about Japan’s ‘militarism’ may distract us from reality

By Wang Zhanyang Source:Global Times Published: 2014-11-2 16:48:01

There have been several incorrect methodologies in the approach to studying Japan, which is why some wrongly believe that Japan may resume militarism. It's important to eliminate such perceptions.

When observing Japan, a fact-based approach is needed and field trips to the country are ideal. Seeking truth from facts is the most fundamental methodology, but it's easier said than done.

Is there avoiding, covering and distorting in dealing with truth? Is there enough courage to face the facts that are different from mainstream views and to correct false opinions? Such reflection on and correctness of the methodology are helpful for us to better know the real Japan.

Direct contacts and experiences are also important. Those Chinese people living in Japan generally don't think that Japan will go down the path of militarism again. I've been a visiting scholar in Japan and share this opinion.

It's necessary to view Japan from a comprehensive perspective rather than only focusing on the country's negative elements; otherwise the seriousness of particular issues will be exaggerated.

In fact, there are strong and positive elements in Japan's domestic and foreign relations that prompt the country to follow a peaceful path. They play a dominant role.

Judgment has to be made based on the basic layout formed by history rather than on words and actions of a small group. Generally, history is shaped by the majority of population, but sometimes a minority. When the latter is the case, there must be some basic historical factors in place that enable the small population to play a decisive role.

Whether it's possible for a country to adopt militarism is decided by a series of basic social factors. For Japan these factors have fundamentally changed since the end of WWII.

Nowadays, factors like pacifism, democracy and rule of law, economic needs, short of fund, deployment of US troops and rise of China all make it impossible for Japan to resume militarism. The rejuvenation of militarism is just an outdated fantasy for a small group of people, which may cause serious consequences, but is not able to reverse the wider trend.

Japan's diplomacy and national defense should be analyzed through the lens of domestic policies. Simply observing its diplomatic and military moves brings much limitation and may easily lead to misunderstandings.

A country's domestic affairs decide its diplomacy and national defense. That's why Japan will not likely resume militarism.

Any undesirable tendency in its diplomacy and national defense will be constrained and finally corrected by powers within the country.

There should be a comprehensive understanding of Japan's internal affairs instead of just focusing on its political shifts. Otherwise there may be delusion that Japan's politicians can freely decide where the country's diplomacy and defense are heading.

With a democratic system, Japan's politics, diplomacy and defense are mainly decided by its economy, middle-class society and culture. Japanese leaders cannot act independently of these. As all these decisive factors are mostly pacifist, Japan is likely to stay on the path of peace.

While it's right to prepare for danger in times of peace, it's also necessary to avoid suffering from imaginary fears.

Peace and development remain the two mainstream trends of current times, but neither of them has been properly handled.

Until issues concerning maintaining peace are addressed, the risks of war will always exist and it's imperative to prepare for danger and modernize our national defense.

However, thinking too much about risks that won't happen will turn indispensable defense measures into troubles for ourselves and hence lead to faults in decision-making.

The international situation has to be viewed appropriately. We need to realize that rationally China doesn't face the risk of invasion and civilization is moving toward peace.

Only with such understanding and confidence can we avoid overreaction, and in particular a deviation from China's focus on economic development.

In this way we can deal with our domestic, foreign and defense affairs in a more proper and safer way.

The author is a professor at the Central Institute of Socialism. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: Viewpoint

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