Talk between Johan Galtung and Ikuro Anzai

TRANSCEND News, 30 Sep 2008

Akifumi Fujita & Robert Kowalczyk

Topic: Article 9 and Japan’s future.

Ikuro Anzai is honorary director of the Kyoto Museum for World Peace, Ritsumeikan University, and Johan Galtung is founder of TRANSCEND-A Network for Peace and Development.

I. Anzai: The Kyoto Museum for World Peace of Ritsumeikan University was established in 1992. Since that time the museum has been visited by nine hundred thousand people including many of the younger generations, which I believe is very important. It was said to be the first peace museum attached to a university and, much to my regret, it still is. This is very interesting due to the university’s history.

Ritsumeikan was a highly militaristic university from the 1920s to the 1940s. In 1928 it even organized an armed unit called “Kineitai” which was established to guard the Emperor’s Palace in the center of the Kyoto. Three years later, in 1931, the so-called Manchurian Incident occurred, which was the way Japan was able to begin its planned conquest of northern China. Ishiwara Kanji was a very active participant behind the scenes of this incident, but he was invited to Ritsumeikan University as a professor ten years later in 1941. He was assigned to be the first director of the National Defense Study Institute of the university.

From 1943 onwards, Ritsumeikan sent about 3000 students to the war front and about 1000 of them were killed in the war. A similar number of students was sent to military factories in Japan to produce munitions, bombs and airplanes. At that time the university had many international students from Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula, but Ritsumeikan expelled them because they didn’t want to be soldiers for the emperor. So Ritsumeikan University was especially militaristic among other universities at that time. Douglas MacArthur once enumerated three universities to be abolished just after the World War II, Kokushikan University in Tokyo, Kogakukan University in Mie Prefecture, and Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.

J. Galtung: I see.

I. Anzai: So Ritsumeikan was very cooperative with the government’s war policy even as Japan invaded Asia Pacific countries, and in retaliation the Japanese people also suffered very much. I am currently writing a five volume set of books about the air raids which were experienced by people in forty-seven prefectures. About seven hundred thousand people were killed by these air raids, including the great Tokyo air raid on March 10, 1945.

J. Galtung: I’d like to add something to that. The air raids in Germany killed about six hundred thousand people, which has been very well documented. This is very important because these topics have become taboo for a long time. That was the victor’s side of the story – “We had to kill a little bit in order to win over these people.” And now you are coming out with five volumes on the air raids in Japan, so I’m very happy to hear that.

I. Anzai: And of course the Japanese people also experienced the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, just after World War II, the Japanese people thought that peace was the most important thing, and this was the fundamental thinking that produced our “peace constitution”. Of course, I’ve heard you say that the Japanese Constitution with its Article 9 is not an “active” peace constitution and that it should become one that takes a more positive approach to peace.

J. Galtung: It is a no-war constitution and that is already good. The philosophy expressed in the preamble is that Japan shall never be visited again with the horrors of war. Now let us only add that one horror of war is to be defeated. So, maybe that was one of the right wing arguments of the time, they didn’t like being defeated. Nobody likes being defeated. But as you point out, at that time there probably was a more positive attitude to Article 9.

I. Anzai: Yes, for Japanese people, just after the war the most important thing was to avoid another war.

J. Galtung: And right now, at this moment, the United States of America is fighting two of the worst wars in human history. Two of the worst because of the weapons they use, for example depleted uranium, to follow up on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, with horrible effects like those on unborn babies, and Japan is helping them. Japan does not have what I call a combat role, it is not actively engaged in war, but it is helping a country which is conducting more war than almost any other country in human history. Of course, they call it defense, everyone calls it defense, so that is not very original. The question is what happened to Japan in the meantime?

You laid out the beginning, Professor Anzai, the things that led up to Article 9, and right now we have the Japanese government subverting and perverting it, and assisting in solidarity in horrifying wars. But one question that I would like to ask is what will happen to Japan when the United States loses these wars and pulls out? It has done so before, Vietnam is an example. Japan played a certain role at that time too, but now it is a much more pronounced, much more explicit role with the Japanese Self-defense forces moving into international waters, moving west, west, west. It is not a Japanese “self” that they can be defending there. So what will happen when the United States loses these wars?

And I can put the question a slightly different way. Is there a limit to what the Japanese government can accept? Or do they actually suppose that the United States will continue “winning, winning, winning” like when it was victorious over a militaristic Japan?

I. Anzai: In addition, we know that there are more than 130 U.S. bases in this country. And the military budget for the Self-defense Forces is almost fifty billion dollars a year, currently the fourth or fifth largest in the world.

J. Galtung: Exactly. It is enormous and it has the type of weaponry that is categorized as offensive. Namely, a long radius of action. It now plays an international role and it can play a much wider international role if it so wants. Highly offensive. The defensive aspect is much less pronounced. Now as we know, Article 9 is not against weapons, it is against going to war. There is room in Article 9 for real self-defense but that has to be with defensive weapons. That has to be with local or what they used to call territorial weapons that can be used in this prefecture and that prefecture. But that is not what it is. A self-defense force means an air force, a navy, which does not belong in inter-territorial self- defense, and an army which can be dispatched if necessary.

I. Anzai: These wrong interpretations of Article 9 began in 1947 just after the enactment of the constitution.

One of the earliest controversies was about the interpretation of paragraph two, which reads, “In order to accomplish the aims of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air force as well as other war potential shall never be maintained”. What is stated in “the preceding paragraph”? That is where the controversy begins. Paragraph one of Article 9 states, “the Japanese people forever renounce war, and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.” So they then interpreted this as saying that the concept of a self-defense force was not against Article 9 because such a force would not be involved in international conflicts.

But in 1947, in the process of trying to revise the Constitution, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida responded quite clearly when asked about the illegality of self-defense forces that almost all wars were fought in the name of self-defense and the concept of self-defense itself was very dangerous and it could not be recognized as such. So at the very beginning, this kind of discussion was already being conducted in the National Diet. And these discussions have steadily continued to pervert the original meaning of Article 9. In 1957 for example, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi said that even nuclear weapons were not against the Constitution. And in 1998, just after an atomic bomb test by India, Mr. Omori, the Head of the Legislation Bureau, said that the use of nuclear weapons for self-defense was not against the Constitution. So changes in government interpretation are continually attacking the original meaning and spirit of Article 9.

J. Galtung: It is a kind of inflation in the sense that one Prime Minister has an interpretation which lays a basis for the next interpretation, and so on. And of course what they are aiming at now is a redrafting that would make it possible for Japan to participate actively in war, provided possibly that there is a mandate from the United Nations. But I would like to point out one thing in this connection. Concerning Article 9, I do not find it unreasonable to say there is room for a self-defense, meaning that the Japanese archipelago is equipped with defensive weapons with which you cannot wage war. But Article 9 does not express anything about other ways of solving international disputes.

I. Anzai: That’s very true.

J. Galtung: This would of course mean mediation, reconciliation with those with which you’ve been at war, active peace building, equitably harmonious relationships. If you interpret Article 9 very strictly and say that it rules out any kind of army, then there is nothing in Article 9 about non-military defense, Gandhian type of defense, let’s say. So, from that point of view, a strict interpretation of Article 9 leaves Japan rather helpless. That’s not so positive either.

However, my major point is this: Article 9 can also be seen as a gift to humanity, simply denouncing war. Simply doing that. And then a lot of things will have to be added, things which I mentioned. But, internationally speaking, if the Japanese government had taken that line and said, “Look, we have Article 9. Let’s make the best of it. Let us say Article 9 for everybody. And let us simply mobilize our embassy, our whole diplomatic service, whatever we have, to say we have a protocol in Tokyo, the protocol is open, who wants to sign it and put Article 9 into their constitution? And we can discuss it. We can revise it, and maybe we can improve it. But the spirit of no war should remain.” If you do that, Japan will become a leader in the world. Right now Japan is a country in the shadows of the United States and going down together with it.

Let me add a small point about war. War is very tricky and the Japanese Government is making use of it. In the Westphalia Treaty of 1648, 24 of October, they defined war. And a very important element in the definition was that it is declared. So if you don’t declare it, it’s not war. The Japanese Government has learned this and so they don’t declare it. They don’t say they’re going to war in Afghanistan, they’re just simply doing it. This has something to do in the West with the enormous importance put on the word, not silence, but on the spoken word. As in the Bible, “In the beginning was the Word”. So in the beginning of a war is the word, the declaration.

And Japan has made use of that. They’ve made use of all the tricks possible. So I think it is important that there is a clear definition of war, which is of course the intended effort to decapitate another. It is going on right now in Iraq, and right now in Afghanistan, and open for the question, how could it have been mediated? You are doing very badly, you United States, with your so-called coalition-of-the-willing. How are you going to reconcile it afterwards?

I. Anzai: Professor Galtung you have taught us for decades that there are many kinds of violence, not only direct violence such as war and an arms race but also structural violence. Am I right to say that the number of people who are killed by war each year leads to maybe several tens of thousands up to several hundred thousand, but the number of deaths due to starvation is several million or up to fifteen million?

J. Galtung: Even more. You can count that structural violence kills about a hundred and twenty-five thousand every day, twenty-five thousand due to starvation and one hundred thousand by diseases that easily could have been prevented and cured if the world had not been run by the market principle, which means you have to pay for the medicine and people simply don’t have the money. And much of that system is maintained by the United States of America. So were are getting into many millions.

I. Anzai: Yes.

J. Galtung: And this is where building peaceful relations comes in. Because peaceful relations is not just trade. It’s the kind of trade that does not exercise structural violence. That kind of spirit is of course missing. I think it a very important point for the Japanese peace movement to say we stand by Article 9, which does not mean that it is perfect, we are not rejecting any part of it but one could add to it.

I. Anzai: One of my colleagues Professor Masayuki Seto of Tokyo University for Agricultural Technology once asked me, if we set up a hypothetical sphere in which all human beings, that is 6.7 billion people, can be put in, what would the diameter of that sphere be? We both calculated separately and found the same answer – only eight hundred and sixty meters. The diameter of the earth is ten thousand times greater than that. So the earth itself has the capability to easily feed 6.7 billion human beings. The fact that one person dies from unnecessary causes, such as malnutrition and starvation, every four seconds is not a natural phenomenon but rather a social and structural phenomenon.

J. Galtung: Exactly. Let me make two points that are very simple. If you want to know the enormous amount of uncultivated and unattended areas in the world, look at a map of Russia and that of the United States. My little country of Norway with 4.6 million people could easily feed 12 million. No problem. In other words, we are rich, as you pointed out. But in addition to that, the other major point is unequal distribution. The world is made in such a way that a little group of people at the top are getting much more than they can every use or spend or eat and are able to go into speculation and things of sort. And you have vast masses at the bottom living in misery. And so we are up against two major difficulties, to use my terminology, direct violence and structural violence. That means, conversely, direct peace and structural peace. I think we know today a great deal about how to do it, actually. It’s mostly a question of political will.

I. Anzai: I am a representative of the Article 9 Message Project which is collecting letters, pictures and paintings related to the importance of Article 9 and peace. And I have very often been invited as a speaker on the subject of Article 9 to meetings throughout Japan. But every time I speak before the public, I have a complicated feeling, for the people before me don’t need to listen to my speech because they have the same value system as I have in respect to Article 9. So it is very important for me to convey my idea to the people who do not come to the meetings. The Article 9 Message Project is now printing many kinds of pamphlets expressing many aspects of Article 9 and peace in order to distribute our thoughts to hundreds of thousands of people. This kind of activity has become very important.

J. Galtung: Let me make a remark from a sociological point of view. To go to a meeting, you have to get out of the house, find a means of transportation, try to show up on time, and so on. Now, what kind of people would do that? They are the people who have ideas that they want to be confirmed by you. They are not the people who want to be troubled by you. This is perhaps the complicated feeling that you have. I have had it also. An alternative to the meeting is the internet. I have found personally when I look at the hits that I reach many, many more people. At the meeting, you can get feedback, questions, a standing ovation and those kinds of things. Perhaps it is good for the ego. But much more important is to reach people who are not convinced. And maybe the internet is the best way of doing that.

I. Anzai: The task is the same with peace museums. The people who come to peace museum are fine and highly welcome, but we must find ways to invite more people who do not want to come.

J. Galtung: Exactly. And your peace museum has gone through this kind of movement to attract others. When I visited it for the first time in 1992, it was an anti-war museum describing the horrors of war. Now it is much more of a true peace museum. Years ago, I was asked to help design what I guess to be the biggest peace museum in the world, which is in Normandy, France, and is called the Caen Memorial. I was given a free-hand on designing, so I did my best. They already had an anti-war section, namely the Second World War, and a Cold War section, and the third section was a peace museum. I found it most interesting to work on the positive aspects of peace. I think it very important for visitors to feel that they are not obliged to either applaud or reject but rather for them to have received some impression just by coming and having a look around.

I. Anzai:  Yes, that’s true. In 2005, the Kyoto Museum for World Peace was renewed and we moved in that direction. We prepared exhibits for displaying not only memories of war but also those of structural violence and the ways to possibly solve these problems. We also established a room to introduce the activities of twelve different NGOs working for peace, which was also very important. We tried to appeal to the visitors to think what can be done by themselves.

J. Galtung: We did something very similar in Normandy. It is interesting to know that you did the same by displaying the work of NGOs. Because when governments do it there are always the so-called national interests. National interests are usually political, military and economic. Economic interests often lead to structural violence, and political and military interests to direct violence. Governments are not, let us say, the best conveyor belts for peace.

Well, let’s return to Article 9, the major focus here. I am struck by the fact that it just exists. Which is already a major achievement. You know much more about it, but I guess it was not really written by Japanese but more by Americans, some governmental and some non-governmental. They put a lot of thinking into it, although my view is their efforts were not sufficient. It was then accepted by the Japanese. And the effort to subvert it started immediately. And we are here now. Professor Anzai, what is your prediction? What’s going to happen now?

I. Anzai: I know that there are seven thousand A9 associations throughout Japan. This is very unusual. We have had three similar experiences in the post-war history of Japan. The first one was in 1954, when the U.S. hydrogen bomb was tested at Bikini Atoll. Soon after that, a tremendous amount of people shouted for nuclear disarmament. The second one was in the 1960s when the Vietnam War was taking place. There was a very strong anti-Vietnam War movement here in Japan and four million union workers made strikes against that war.

J. Galtung: Fantastic.

I. Anzai: The third was in the late 1970s. The United Nations Special Session devoted to Nuclear Disarmament was held in 1978. The Japanese people carried out a very big campaign for nuclear disarmament by sending more than thirty million signatures to the U.N. And now we are facing the fourth wave in the peace movement by establishing Article 9 associations throughout Japan. It is a kind of hope. But even if each Article 9 association organizes one thousand people, that makes only seven million people, which is not enough to stop the government’s move. So we must mobilize ourselves more and more.

J. Galtung: I was with one of these groups in Shirahama in Wakayama prefecture. It was very impressive. I was struck by the dedication of the people. They were to a large extent retired teachers. They had much time and much knowledge. They knew each other. They were very locally based. In other words, it went in a sense beyond Article 9 to the invigoration of local community, which is the true nature of people. I found it fascinating. They talked about local currencies, local traditional crafts and local sub-sufficiency. Even if the Japanese government has no real strategy or has taken somebody else’s strategy, the people have their own. And the people have a spirit which will play a major role internationally in the decades to come. It has to be developed to a higher level qualitatively and quantitatively. If a spiritual crisis exists in Japan, it’s all at the top. And in the large majority who simply don’t know in from out, I find some confusion, they are wondering where is this leading, and in that confusion they are engaged in material consumption. So you will have these active groups coming up. And what do you think will come out of this?

I. Anzai: I think this movement must be somehow connected with politics.

J. Galtung: It must be. I’ve been observing Japan since 1968, and now for the first time there is something resembling a debate in the National Diet. I mean between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party. I only wish that the Democratic Party would have a peace strategy or a peace goal. They are quarreling on one issue after the other and all those issues have to do with Article 9 in one way or another. They have to do with concessions and contracts, and refueling of navy ships participating in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has to do with the so-called hosting of the bases, as you mentioned, the 130 U.S. bases here in Japan. Actually, there are more than 700 U.S. bases in 130 countries in the world. Partially due to the cost of these bases, the USA is bankrupt, and more than bankrupt, heavily indebted. The U.S. should be put in a debtor’s prison for not paying its debt. Of course, that prison does not exist and the U.S. is big and nobody wants to do it, but that’s the fact.

So, what will come out of this? Is there a point when there will be a turning in Japan? Because, as you pointed out, its good to have these 7,000 groups but it has to be connected with politics and the government of Japan.

I. Anzai: In July last year, the Japanese people experienced a slight change in the political situation in the national election of the Upper House. And I think some Japanese students also began to feel that they could change their society through social involvement. So I have some hope for them. Article 9 is clearly explicit. In this connection, I have an interesting story about Ishiwara Kanji whom I mentioned played a major role in Manchurian Incident and was invited to Ritsumeikan University. After the start of World War II, he resisted Tojo Hideki who was then the Prime Minister and commanded the Pacific War, and so he was not prosecuted as a category-A war criminal after the war. At the start of the war, he insisted the on “a final war for global peace”, but in 1947 just after the enactment of the Constitution of Japan, he began to say that global peace must be accomplished through Article 9. He said that Article 9 was quite explicit and would lead to peace.

J. Galtung: Well, no other country has it. Not one other country has an Article 9. It’s a sensation. So as I said earlier it’s a gift to humanity. And that brings up in my mind that when I came to Japan for the first time in my life in January 1968, all the media was filled only with government people, with technocrats and corporate people, and all had diplomas from Tokyo University or Kyoto University. I mean it was a very limited to an elite concept. Today however it is blossoming with NGOs, with local movements, old people, young people, and enormous amounts of women coming in. It is a kind of underbrush that was concealed before. It is now a vegetation that is so rich that it is overshadowing the types of people that used to run Japan, and to some extent still run Japan, who are being pushed aside by this wave. And I see this as one sign of optimism.

It’s very important that these new forces that are coming up carrying such values as they do. Just look at the solidarity with villages that are left behind in outlying districts in Japan because of no monetary support and things of that kind. Movements of that kind are coming up. For example, there are three hundred places in Japan that have local currencies that stimulate local buying to get more circulation in the local economy. This is highly important.

I. Anzai: The Japanese people are beginning to realize that their government is not always correct. For example in regard to the pension records which were lost last year. Prime Minister Abe said that fifty million pension records were floating in the air and that these fifty million records would be dealt with within a year. Most everyone understood that this was a lie because to correct such a large number in a year would obviously be impossible. So the people are beginning to see that it is not good at all to be completely dependent on their government and they are adjusting to this reality.

You came to Japan for the first time in 1968, and I think the 1960s were on the one hand very active, as shown in the large movements against the Vietnam War, but on the other hand they were a very dangerous decade. For example, during that time the Japanese government awarded Curtis LeMay, who was the U.S. commander who carried out indiscriminate bombings on the cities of Japan while killing seven hundred thousand people, the order of Grand Condon, the highest award it could bestow. This was nothing if not a clear violation of the spirit of Article 9.

J. Galtung: That was an extreme in submissiveness to the U.S., to award your own killer. Curtis LeMay was at the beginning against bombing the civilian population. But he was persuaded by Arthur Harris, an Englishman, who was behind the German bombing. Harris started in early 1920s bombing the Iraq rebellion against English colonialism in Iraq, then went on to dropping bombs on Afghanistan. And he persuaded LeMay because it was the only way to carry out the war in the spirit of war as the continuation of politics by other means. Anyway, it is very sad, very bad, infinitely bad.

But Curtis LeMay is important for the fact that in February 1943 the US Air Force changed its doctrine based on the ideas of Arthur Harris. The doctrine was to concentrate bombings on the working class quarters, for people there were living more closely so that there would be more killing per bomb. In addition, they were working in the arms industries, and finally because they were considered Marxists or Communists. So that was more or less the philosophy behind it. By means of a concrete bombing strategy inside the cities in Japan, you don’t waste the bombs. Bombing on the districts of the upper class is too dispersed, the houses being much further apart. Moreover the upper class people are corruptible and may become your friends. We are dealing with very ugly forces here.

Again my question is where is the breaking point for the Japanese government? I suspect there is one. Now that we are drawing this to a close, I would like to hold a banner of Article 9 up high. The point is that it is a signal. From the European point of view, it is a signal of an anti-Westphalia peace treaty that actually ushered in the state system with the right of war. Article 9 says this country does not have the right of war and renounces the right of war. Stay with it and make it a beacon to enlighten the world.

I. Anzai: For me involvement in the peace movement began in 1960 when I entered the University of Tokyo. That was the year of the peace movement against the Japan-US Security Treaty. That was a very important experience for me. I recognized that we can change society by our own involvement in a citizen’s movement as I saw how Prime Minister Kishi was forced to resign. Young people these days have not experienced such a thing. We must encourage them in all aspects. In the book, “Is Japan in Crisis?” which you and I co-authored some years ago, we wrote about the importance of autonomy. The autonomy of the Japanese government is declining to almost zero. So now the autonomy of the people is becoming highly important. I would like to encourage this autonomy at all levels of the people’s movements – the individual level, the NGO level, the government level and the international level.

J. Galtung: You got started this conversation by going back to the early history of Ritsumeikan. I would like to end it by going back to Monday, 11 October 1989. The cold war was ended on that day. 50,000 people gathered in the street of Leipzig. They had no arms. They had nothing but torches. They raised the torches high with the message that they had no weapons. They were surrounded by the state police. They were talking about Gandhi and Martin Luther King and were arguing for freedom, the right of travel. The head of the police in Leipzig said in a sad voice that there was nobody violent there. That was the end of it. The people brought it about. One month later, on 11th of November 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened. In other words, people’s movements matter. Also important is non-violence. Any act of violence will be used as a pretext. So make the major movements grow from the bottom up, keep it non-violent and have a positive message.

I. Anzai: So, let’s continue to mobilize ourselves to encourage young generations.

J. Galtung: Yes, for autonomy.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Sep 2008.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Talk between Johan Galtung and Ikuro Anzai, is included. Thank you.

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