Toward a Northeast Asian Community

EDITORIAL, 24 Aug 2015

#390 | Johan Galtung, 24 Aug 2015 - TRANSCEND Media Service


Abe’s policy of “collective self-defense”, an alliance with the most belligerent country in the world, USA, with 248 military interventions abroad since 1805–78 after the Second World War– is a policy of national insecurity. It involves Japan in US armed conflicts all over, eg., against the Islamic State with revenge against Japan, and in arms races easily leading to war. And the TPP-CSD makes Japan a periphery of a US economy with deep problems, also reducing welfare. All this is masked by focusing on the past, and on apologies.

Positive Peace, from 1958, means cooperation with equity, harmony with empathy, institutions-fusion-transmission by inspiring others; nothing military, no arms. The Japanese government uses such words for the opposite of what they stand for: A Peace Umbrella, not neo-AMPO (Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan).

Negative Peace, aka security, stands for the absence of violence and war by removing the causes through conflict solution and trauma conciliation; in the Japanese approach, there is no conflict solution.

A Peace Formula:

Equity X Empathy / Trauma X Conflict = Positive Peace / Threats to Negative Peace

Instead negativism, anti-neighbors, rightist-leftist anti-Japan, anti-each other; no going beyond linking the positive in parties, both-and; Japanese are good at eclecticism at home, not in foreign affairs.

Identifying Unsolved Conflicts and Unconciled Traumas:

Conflicts Traumas
Japan-China Senkaku-Diaoyudao Nanjing Unit 738
Japan-Taiwan Senkaku-Diaoyutai
Japan-S Korea Takeshima-Dokdo Comfort women
Japan-N Korea Takeshima-Dokdo Abduction Forced labor, Zainichi
Tokyo-Okinawa Occupied by USA-Tokyo 1879 conquest
Japan-Russia Northern Territories Yalta-Potsdam transfer
Japan-USA Still occupying Japan Pearl Harbor, TYO-HIR-NAG

Traumas: the facts are heavily contested; we need badly an International Fact-Finding Commission to establish the nucleus of truth.

Most problematic are the Japan-USA relations: how much was US provocation, to what extent was the occupation of Japan already prepared before Pearl Harbor, and so on. In addition, how many civilians were killed in Vietnam, Malaya-Singapore, Indonesia by Japanese invaders, how many by the French, the English, the Dutch when they came back to reconquer their colonies after the Japanese capitulation, etc.

However, this is all in the past; our focus should be on the future. We notice the significance of islands in the seas of Northeast Asia, contested between Japan on one side and from North to South by Russia, China-Taiwan and Korea South-North on the other; six countries. All have good points, none of them really compelling. Conclusion: To solve the contested islands conflicts joint ownership is proposed; joint sovereignty for the Northern Territories. In other words, use conflict to transcend, to go beyond, building equitable cooperation.

In general, we solve conflicts through mediation in three steps:

  1. mapping: the parties, their goals and conflicts = incompatible goals;
  2. testing goal legitimacy: legal, human rights, basic needs standards;
  3. vision of a new feasible reality meeting reasonably legitimate goals.

The method is 1-on-1 mediation, with dialogues exploring:

  • Future Positive: what is the East Asia the parties want? Idealism;
  • Past-Present Negative: what is going on, Black-White? Realism;
  • Past Positive: was it once better? What happened? Nostalgia;
  • Future Negative: what are you most afraid of? Worst case paranoia.

Japan tends to disregard the first and focus on the fourth: “crisis”. Guided by all four, concrete-constructive-creative solutions can emerge.

The Northeast Asian Community NEAC would have 6 members like the European Community of 1958: 2 Chinas, 2 Koreas, Japan, Far East Russia, with Okinawa as a Special Prefecture serving as Headquarter for NEAC, or, ANEAN, Association of Northeast Asian Nations, learning from ASEAN; catching up with the trend in the world. To be combined with equally good relations to USA-Washington, going for the best on both sides.

Yet, even with this peace umbrella things may go wrong, hence:

Defensive Defense: non-provocative, non-offensive, short distance:

CMD: conventional military coastal-space defense; MTBs-PGM, beams;

PMD: paramilitary territorial defense, guerrilla-militia; Jeeps-PGM;

NMD: positive/negative nonviolence; noncooperation-civil disobedience;

CMD + PMD + NMD together make the country unoccupable like Switzerland.

Not disarmament but transarmament with UN monitoring; nor “unarmed neutrality” but defensive defense, with AMPO, but without bases.

Add to this: Read A9-1 positively, recommend it for all states:

No to war as instrument in foreign policy–arms only for defensive defense–Yes to a positive peace umbrella. With Japan as world leader.

Please think it through: what do you prefer, a positive peace policy based on conciling traumas, solving conflicts, defensive defense just in case, catching up with regions, Europe, Latin America, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia; or a dangerous arms race involving Japan in US wars with revenge coming to Japan–and in addition solving nothing?

Japan-USA is more complicated. Yes, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and before that was at war with China, Russia, Germany in WWI, China in Manchuria, France in Vietnam, England in Malaya-Singapore, Netherlands in Indonesia; with all the colonial powers in Asia. It did not colonize them but Japanized and made them capable of beating Japan economically. Yes, it was violent and Japan should have done this nonviolently, the Gandhian way of liberating India or some other way.

Moreover, to what extent did USA want the war to occupy and get rid of Japan as competitor in East Asia and the whole world? To what extent did they provoke, and prepare the occupation before Pearl Harbor at the Anglo-American Tavistock psychop facility?

Could there be some basis for reviewing the Tokyo Tribunal–with seven Japanese executed–and the other military tribunals, with more than a thousand executed for war crimes? How about the French killing maybe 400,000 civilians in the First Indochina War 1945-54 trying to reconquer Vietnam? Getting off with impunity like the English, the Dutch–.

The questions are many; the answers are few. But we repeat, do not let us get lost in the past; we have more important jobs to do.

The future belongs to whoever has the most compelling vision.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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4 Responses to “Toward a Northeast Asian Community”

  1. Dear Johan,

    You have expressed an excellent overview of the situation, past, current and future in Northeast Asia. Total concurrence with your diagnosis and (hopefully) progressive prognosis. When seen in such clarity, how can anyone not agree?

    And yet we have these dubious entities who call themselves politicians. These who no longer represent their constituents, but more significantly, those in financial / military power. This is where the problem truly exists: the globalization of the Neoliberal (Pure Capitalistic) system. This is what now makes the decisions.

    For the time being.

    As one of our Chinese Youth Leaders in Peace Mask East Asia has expressed, “The former dialogue between Globalization and Nation States is quickly becoming a trialogue. The third voice belonging to the People.” It is this wave of human evolution, quickly paid attention to by corporate leaders and stock holders who depend on the people for their very financial, if not also physical (to them a secondary consideration it seems) survival, that will either carry us forward or cause the whole shoddy contraption to quickly collapse. Should we continue to progress, in fits and starts, the politicians, and hopefully the military, will readily follow.

    Our future is centered in the human spirit. It always has been, it always will be (see Robin Wright’s The Evolution of God). We can no longer tolerate the contrivances of tired political maneuvers that obviously no longer work. The days of traditional politics, as we have long and sadly known it, are about to disappear. If not the people, who will lead us forward in this age of profit, speed and chaos?

    For this, our humble NPO project, known as Peace Mask East Asia, continues to press forward through what have been difficult, turbulent and highly apathetic waters.

    Beneath our masks, political or otherwise, one finds peace.

    So that the People might see themselves as One. This is already known to be true, deep within our collective sub-conscience. Once it becomes clearly visible and conscious, is shared, and is retained and fostered, all else will more easily follow.

    Who doubts that?

    In sincere and humble respect,

    Robert (Bob)
    From Ulaan Baatar

  2. satoshi says:

    Hidetoshi Shibata, a journalist worked as the right hand man of Matsutaro Shoriki (= regarded as the father of nuclear energy of Japan), said, “The government under the occupation is equivalent to nothing.”

    On the day of signing the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, AMPO (= what might be called “Alt-AMPO”) was also signed. Subsequently, in 1952 the Administrative Agreement (= what might be called “Alt-SOFA”) between the US and Japan was also signed. Only a few Japanese were aware that another phase of the occupation began from then on. Since 1960, Alt-AMPO and Alt-SOFA were repackaged as Neo-AMPO and Neo-SOFA, both of which have legally (and therefore, politically as well) and highly effectively regulated Japan.

    Some scholars point out that the Japanese government regard these AMPO and SOFA superior than the Constitution of Japan. In fact, the Supreme Court pronounced as follows: The issues relating to AMPO and SOFA are matters of the “political question doctrine” (a.k.a. the “doctrine of the act of governance”), meaning that AMPO and SOFA are out of the (national) legal system.

    The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was established reportedly with the money provided by CIA. Nobusuke Kishi, Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 – 1960, was one of the co-founders of the LDP. Now, his grandson, Shinzo Abe, is the Prime Minister of Japan and the head of the LDP. All, with no exception, Japanese political leaders who were against or who resisted to the US policy lost their political status. Abe knows what will happen to him if he resists to the US policy.

    Toward a “Northeastern Asian Community”? Wonderful! However, that is one of the last things that United States might accept. In other words, such community will never be created, because the United Sates will never accept that. Even if it be created, it will soon be destroyed. Please remember what happened to Prime Minister Tanzan Ishibashi, the predecessor of Prime Minister Kishi. Ishibashi was promoting the resume of the diplomatic relationship between Japan and China. He got a “mysterious illness” suddenly, even though he was not killed. So, he resigned PM’s post immediately. What happened to Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka who opened the door for the diplomatic relation between Japan and China, after he refused Kissinger’s plea for not resuming the diplomacy between Japan and China? The answer: The Lockheed Scandal, politically created event aiming at Tanaka, who lost his political life because of that. It is reported that Kissinger said one month before Tanaka’s official visit to China, “Of all treacherous sons of bitches, the Japs take the cake.” The political revenge by the US government against Japan continued. Abe learned lessons from all these events. Then, what can one expect from Abe? The answer is clear.

    Let us remember Shibata’s words: “The government under the occupation is equivalent to nothing.” Since the commencement of the occupation of Japan, 70 years have passed. In more 30 years, one century will pass since then. Some ordinary Japanese, not those of politicians, gradually became aware, at last, that the occupation by the United States has continued until this moment and that it will continue almost permanently.

    Don’t desperate. Pandora’s box contains “hope”.

  3. HIrofumi says:

    Dr. Galtung;

    Thank you very much for your visit to Japan ! I was present in the small session in Yokohama at afternoon on August 21.
    (I first made a question about SokaGakkai and KomeitoParty.)

    Your talk was so encouraging. and i wanted to make a question further; about your concept of “Japanization” of East Asia once Imperial Japan had done.

    I think what you have mentioned is true to some extent, but on the other hand, it worked as a vicious cultural violence toward Koreans, Chinese, S.E.Asians. It has been one of the greatest trauma over them, and that’s why they’re against Japan even today.

    As a Japanese, I think it is, and will have been the most important task left to us to alleviate these trauma to build Asian Community, not to make it “Dai To- A”.

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