Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Baby Boomers Give Ozawa Too Much Leeway

I've been criticizing Ichiro Ozawa, the head of the Democratic Party of Japan, ever since October 7, 2007, when he was interviewed in the November issue of general news magazine Sekai. He was quoted in the magazine's pages as saying that "If I end up running the government and setting diplomatic and defense policies, I would like to have Japan participate in ISAF," which is the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. I am strongly opposed to having Japan enter in the Americans' war in Afghanistan.

Ever since I started criticizing him, I've been getting emails and letters telling me to stop it. The messages were so intense that at first I brushed it off as the work of some particularly devoted Ozawa acolytes. But it turns out to be more than that.

I've noticed that within the Japanese populace there is a particularly virulent strain of thought that says, "What's so bad about having the SDF in Afghanistan? What's so bad about having them be part of ISAF?" I've learned that a lot of Japanese people think, "What's the big deal if we go to war?" At some point, this argument between me and Ozawa became an argument between me and his supporters. I've been answering their question — "What's the problem with going to war?" — in recent writings. And I've come to realize that Ozawa has become to proxy for those people who don't fear war.

A few days ago, I was talking to a former newspaper reporter and an old acquaintance who took an aggressive stance on the subject: "Even if the Ozawa cabinet decides to dispatch troops to Afghanistan, that would still be preferable to having Taro Aso and the Liberal Democratic Party in power. It would even be true if Aso were to decide to stay out of Afghanistan. It's no big deal if Ozawa joins the war in Afghanistan. I've had enough of LDP governments. I would support Ozawa even if he followed through with the pledge he made in that issue of Sekai."

I believe that everything else being equal, the government that won't lead us into a war is preferable.

There are more and more Japanese people who share my friend's sentiment about being fed up with the LDP. A lot of people are hoping that a new group will take control of the government. The election will be a referendum on the government of the past. But that's not all the vote will be about. It will also be a referendum on our future. The citizenry needs to both criticize the past and look to a peaceful future.

The current DPJ is entrusting every political decision to Ozawa. If the party were to take power after the next election, everything would be decided by Prime Minister Ozawa. This new premier's cabinet would reinterpret our right to exercise collective self-defense without bothering to revise Article 9 of the Constitution. A DPJ-led government would lead to the absolute rule of one person, who would decide to take military action in spite of Article 9. Once the Ozawa government takes over, he can take military action without worrying about the nuances of Article 9.

I am against this politics of despotism and warmongering. A lot of baby boomers support Ozawa, but I ask them to think more seriously about the meaning of war and peace.