East Asia: Four Formulas for Peace

EDITORIAL, 6 Jun 2016

#431 | Johan Galtung


An East Asia of 6 states, 5 from the 6-Party Talks + Taiwan.  The 6 in East Asia divide into South Korea-Taiwan-Japan in the US-led alliance AMPO+ (USA-Japan Security Treaty+); North Korea; China-Russia with others in SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization).  AMPO+ with US “nuclear umbrella”, the other two may acquire nukes; North Korea with nukes; and SCO with two nuclear powers.  A nuclear arms race.

Arms races may deter, but often end with wars.  Wars mean trauma for losers and glory for winners. PTSD-post trauma stress disorder-may lead to thirst for revenge, and PGED-post glory exuberance disorder-to thirst for more glory.  War, war, war.  Worse than ever since WWII.

East Asia badly needs another approach.  As a minimum, the four tasks in the TRANSCEND peace formula: the negative peace of conciling traumas and solving conflicts; the positive peace of cooperation for mutual and equal benefit-equity-and harmony based on empathy.

Unconciled traumas and unsolved conflicts: Japan/USA over FDR provoking Japan into war, Pearl Harbor, fire-bombing/nuclear genocide (Obama fell far short of Willy Brandt genuflexing in Warsaw for the genocide on Jews); Japan/Russia over Russian expansionism and the war; Japan/Taiwan-Korea-parts of China for uninvited, not colonialism, but japanization; Japan/SK-a carbon copy of Japan-with hysterically anti-Japanese policies (not in Pyonyang) demanding ever more apology and money. But/Japan-SK “comfort women”, like Japan-China Nanjing, are complex; international commissions may sort facts from fiction.

Japan/China slave labor seems solved (Japan Times 2 Jun 2016).

NK/USA-SK: normalization-nuclear free Korea vs NK collapse.

Then Japan vs Russia, Chinas, Koreas over the contested islands.

Then USA polarizing East Asia, more tension, micro-managing.

Most problematic: Japan, USA; least: Russia.  But conciliation can wait for better times, however; let us focus on conflict solution.

General formula for contested islands: joint ownership, sharing revenues from the islands and the EEZ, 40-40-20; 40 for Japan, 40 for the two Chinas (Senkaku), 40 for the two Koreas (Takeshima), 20 for ecology and administration. For the Northern Territories accruing to the Soviet Union by the Yalta-Potsdam accords-Japan acquiesced under duress-30-30-20-20, the last 20 for the very badly treated Ainus.

Te logic of peace is future-oriented, the logics of history and law past-oriented; use the conflicts as a challenge to weave peace.

NK-USA+: hold NK to their words, and NK will change; sanction NK into collapse and they may use the bomb. Do not play with nuclear war.

The setting for a permanent dialogue over these complex issues in East Asia is a 6-member North East Asian Community, NEAC or ANEAN, Association of North East Asian Nations, modeled on the 6-member EC of 1958, today EU with 28, and ASEAN of 1967, today with 10 members.  They both work, ASEAN better than EU with its inequity and hard conflicts.

Morale: do not expand to all of Asia, at most a Council of Asia.

A veto free communality depolarizes and may build peace within.  Keeping USA out helps even if Japan serves as a US Trojan Horse, as UK does in EU.  Today Japan will not join, but that may change when the reality of Collective Self-Defense (read US-led Other-Attack) hits. And the person who may help Japan out of the quagmire is the subtle very intelligent Abe; there is Abe-1 and Abe-2, read his writings.

Security within NEAC?  General answer: defensive defense, based on non-offensive, non-provocative weapons with short range carrier platforms like MTBs, jeeps, helicopters with PGM precision-guided missiles; and NMD, non-military Gandhian defense against occupation. Switzerland has survived more than 700 years; invaded by Napoleon, a French psychopath 1798-1806-he gave up-but not by the other, Hitler.

However, for peace we need Japan and South Korea independence, as autonomous states not micro-managed by USA. Meaning what? For Japan:

  • economically, not importing rice from USA, food self-sufficiency for war survival and rural survival; and independence for Bank of Japan;
  • militarily, phasing out US bases in Okinawa-Ryukyu and Japan proper, and defensive coast defense, militia inland, and NMD if occupied;
  • politically, no more secret micro-management, transparency; if TPP then solve disputes not in Washington by the SDI Clause under IMF under US Congress; no “annual demands” on Japan, reciprocity, parity;
  • culturally, continuing learning from rich, innovative US culture, but also USA from Japanese eclecticism to be open to other cultures than the Anglo-Western cultures lining the US “melting-pot”;
  • socially, with better relations to USA than ever, on equal terms, not servile, not micro-managed, not open to US spies entering.

For SK independence to initiate peace with NK if USA does not; for a viable Korean peninsula-with neo-liberalism and capi-communism.

Japan was trumped by the “dragons”, the dragons were trumped by China, China may be trumped by Latin America-Africa, USA by Trump.

Japan, SK and NK may learn from Switzerland not to make foreign policy by a small elite behind closed doors whether in democracies or dictatorships, but by local communities and referendums. For Japan to kill the A9 constitution without a referendum is a shame, like Germany not having a referendum over EC membership/euro.  For SK to continue Japan-bashing without, like Taiwan, concluding “Japan was not that bad,” is untenable. In NK juche [Chosŏn’gŭl: 주체; hancha: 主體usually translated as self-reliance, the official political ideology of North Korea. –Wikipedia] should open for local decisions.

All of this will be greatly helped by the basic changes in USA. War fatigue has come to four of five key politicians: Trump and Cruz, Sanders and Obama; the exception being belligerent Hillary Clinton.

And by the US Empire declining and falling, meaning less states willing to fight for the USA. Obama, the most belligerent US president (INYT, 16 May 2016) has to kill alone, with drones and above all SEALs.

The road to nuclear war is open. So is the road to peace.


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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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Jun 2016.

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