News From Japan

Sailing off to join the schrecklichkeit?

John Manning introduces another story of resistance from the Land of the Rising Left.

We who are debating and talking to each other on email and internet now are alive and functioning at a most critical time in human history.  The enormous accumulations of wealth in the great banks and corporations who own everything mean to do just what Bush, as their spokesman, says, use the world's armaments, which they control,  to stamp out all resistance to their absolute rule everywhere on the globe.  They don't put it in just those words, but that's it.

And as the history of Northern Ireland shows, and that of Palestine is showing, while people live, they will find some way, even the most desperate, to resist oppression, and that means perpetual war, as Mr. Rumsfeld has indicated.

The rich will live in fear, clutching their possessions in their gated suburbs, while the rest of us will live in fear or terror that our protests in demonstrations will end us up disappeared in prison or wherever with no trial on charges as "terrorists".

For whatever reason the progressives in Japan set out to find how you could live differently. They studied all the efforts of the rest of the world and their own history and experience, and have been working out a road to a just society of peace and cooperation - socialism - based on joint struggle and study - of world knowledge and their own mistakes, seeking, as they said, "the path will the least sacrifice to the people."

I had had 40 years as a union worker and organiser in US factories, so no illusions about capitalism, and 13 years in one of the most advanced and prosperous countries of the "socialist block", Czechoslovakia.   They had all the trappings of socialism - housing, cheap rents and food, no unemployment, paid vacations, free medical care, but no heart. The working people weren't consulted.  They were told it was all done in their name, but they knew better.  To criticise, even make suggestions was the wrong thing.  The Stalin trials and executions which had created this atmosphere were 30 years earlier, but the creativeness and initiative of the working class was damped out.

But the workers didn't end the system.  That was done by the functionaries in the party who held their high positions by yessing those above them.  And the workers let it go.  From the looks of the US movies and television, which came in, it might be better on the other side.  Now they are stuck.

The Japanese had seen some of what was wrong, had fought to go their own way and been ostracised by the Soviets, whose word was more or less law.  They were untouched by the collapse and have progressed greatly in the decade which has followed.  If it were not for the overwhelming US military presence and planes overhead they would be the elected government of Japan today.

But it is one world.  We are all in this together and will have to get out of it together if we are to get out at all.

What the Japanese communists have to give us is hope.  Hope from the evidence that struggle for the people's needs and a campaign of reason does move people.  Over the 12 years and every day on the internet the message is that there is hope and there are a world of things which can be done to defend and advance the people on all fronts.

The odds are against the world's people right now, but they can be changed. If we in the west can get ourselves together, the whole world situation will be different.  The Japanese web site and Japan Press is a daily reminder that it can be done., and that is why the blackout on it is so total.

  The Nazis had a term "schrecklichkeit", which translates as "horror" or "wickedness", meaning to so act that all will be terrified. As, for instance, when in revenge for the assassination of the Nazi Reichsprotektor Heydrich by a team of terrorists flown and parachuted in from Britain,  they shot all the men and boys in the Czechoslovakia town of Lidice, which had no relation to the killing, carried off the children and took the women to forced labour and concentration camps.

If the truth be known, the US has long topped that, and only a bought press is keeping its government and military from getting full credit for it, but the news is getting around.

One of the JCP’s major current concerns is the development of the country’s Self Defence Force (SDF) into an army with the capacity to conduct military actions overseas. Below is a report of a series of protests around this issue which occurred this week.

Citizens protest against Japanese naval force ships' departure for war

In emergency meetings on November 25, people in three military port cities in Japan protested when three Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force ships departed for the Indian Ocean under the law to send the Self-Defence Forces abroad to take part in the U.S. retaliatory war (SDF dispatch law).

Under the slogan, "support U.S.-led military strikes in Afghanistan," three ships, the oiler "Towada" at Kure in Hiroshima Pref., the minesweeper tender "Uraga" at Yokosuka in Kanagawa Pref., and the destroyer "Sawagiri" at Sasebo in Nagasaki Pref. departed respectively, carrying a total of about 460 personnel.

Dozens of citizens from peace organisations shouted in protest in unison at each port.

Nagasaki Peace Committee member Yamashita Chiaki, who has been monitoring the moves at Sasebo base, stated that he heard two national anthems, first the US', then Japan's, being played on the deck of Sawagiri.

On November 9, the Defence Agency dispatched one supplier and two destroyers for the Indian Ocean in accordance with the "information gathering" clause under the agency establishment law. It is said that in early December, the agency will assign these advance teams to act under the SDF dispatch law so that they will be able to engage in logistical activities for the US Forces.

The Communist daily Akahata of November 26 said that the government has not made clear any details on controversial issues in the Diet (Parliament) as to whether the SDF will carry out oil fuelling for US ships capable of launching cruise missiles and for US aircraft carrier task force groups.

This indicates that there is a growing danger that the coverage by SDF units will be extended endlessly without being approved by the Diet, the paper warned.