Military in Iraq: 2 Birds, 1 Stone

From the March-April 2004 Trumpet Print Edition

Earlier this year, after receiving approval by the Japanese Diet, Japanese Self Defense Forces (sdf) landed on the southern plains of Iraq—in the most overt military move by Japan since World War ii. In doing so, Japan killed two birds with one stone. First, it was a significant move toward fulfilling its intention to become a military power. Second, economically it was a necessary step toward securing its oil interests.

Article 9 of Japan’s constitution—composed largely by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur shortly after the atomic dust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki dissipated—prohibited Japan from maintaining a military.

Today, however, not only does Japan maintain “land, sea and air forces” (under the title of “self-defense forces”), but with its military now deployed in Iraq, Japanese troops are operating in a combat zone for the first time since World War ii.

Two years ago, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi asserted that the Japanese constitution should be changed. View Japan’s deployment of sdf to Iraq in light of Koizumi’s drive to rewrite Article 9 of the constitution, and it is readily apparent that Japan—with the second-largest navy and some of the largest military spending in the world—is poised to be a major military player on the world scene.

Then there are Japan’s oil interests. Japan imports 99 percent of its oil, 88 percent of which comes from the Middle East. For this reason, stability in that region, particularly in Iraq, is crucial to Japan’s industry and economy. Prolonged disruption to Japan’s oil supply from the Middle East has the potential to seriously destabilize its economy. Surely by committing troops to Iraq, Japan expects to garner some measure of influence or control over Iraqi oil fields and oil contracts.

What’s more, Washington’s policy unwittingly encouraged this expectation. “Washington has, in effect, bluntly informed everyone that if countries want to protector even havecommercial interests in Iraq, they will need to station forces there …” (www.stratfor.com, January 26; emphasis ours).

Washington is supporting a move by Tokyo that will strengthen Japan both economically and militarily—and set a precedent for bolder moves in the future. Within sight is the resurrection of Japan’s military might which the Trumpet has consistently predicted.

■ Half of Japan’s energy comes from oil.

■ Japan imports 99 percent of its oil.

■ 88 percent of Japan’s oil is imported from the Middle East.

■ Japan pays $1 more a barrel than Europe and U.S., because of transport costs.