The Far East


April 1952

on the World today

THE American concept of security in the Pacific. has been dominated, since 1945, by the idea of an island chain of allies off the shore of Eastern Asia. This chain now includes Japan, the Ryukyus, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand by treaty, and Formosa by our unilateral decision. It would be considered an armed attack upon the United States if there were an attack upon U.S. forces stationed in or about Japan, upon Okinawa, or upon the armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft of Australia, New Zealand, or the Philippines in the Pacific. These are serious commitments.

Our securily treaties with Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines are expressly based on the idea of reciprocity. They come within the framework set up by the Vandenberg Senate Resolution of 1948 which permits security arrangements with other countries only if they can provide “continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid . . . to maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”

In these treaties we have all agreed that an armed attack in the Pacific upon any one of the parties would be dangerous to the peace and safety of the others. The spirit if not the language is as binding as that of the North Atlantic Treaty. These three countries are allies in every sense of the word, and our security is bound up with their political stability and military strength. Our security pacts with Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippine Islands are part of the price we have paid for the Peace Treaty and the Security Pact with Japan.

Australia feels towards Japan the way France feels towards Germany; the fear of renewed Japanese aggression is far more real than fear of Russian or Chinese expansion. Australians think of t he possibility of Japanese rearmament with a heavy heart. They realize that Japan in Communist hands might present an even more frightful danger, which must be prevented. They understand that a hungry, poverty-stricken Japan would court revolution.

The Australians will go along with some measure of rearmament but they still oppose Japan’s acquisition of long-range offensive weapons that would bring Japanese power into the South Pacific. The Filipinos also are reluctant to accept the restoration of Japanese sovereignty without explicit American guarantees of mutual security. Hence the patchwork of the new treaty system: hence its tentative and provisional character. But there is nothing to prevent future development of a comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area.

How secure is Japan?

Treaties are expressions of current political intent, but their ultimate value depends on political developments, Before speculating upon the domestic development of Japan, let us look first at the treaty structure and see what it involves. One of the big problems, the relationship of a sovereign Japan to the United Nations, has been skillfully solved. Japan becomes a kind of associate member of the UN. She agrees to provide the UN with every assistance in actions taken by the UN in accordance with the Charter, and to withhold assistance from states against whom such action is being taken.

Japan can make agreements with one or more powers for the stationing of foreign troops on Japanese soil after the occupation is ended. Of great importance is the provision that Japan “as a sovereign nation possesses the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense ” as provided in the UN Charter. If the Japanese want to interpret the matter that way, they would have here the legal justification for rearming in order to contribute to collective security forces. In this way the provisions of the Japanese Constitution renouncing war and the maintenance of land, sea, and air forces might be sideracked.

For this reason, among others, we are unable to conclude with Japan a security treaty based on reciprocal obligations. The U.S. is not trealy bound to guarantee the security and independence of Japan. The fact that we shall do so in practice is underlined by the novel clause in the Security Pact which permits us, at the request of the Japanese government, to assist in handling indirect aggression of the well-known Communist type, “largescale internal riots and disturbances in Japan, caused through instigation or intervention by an outside Power or Powers.”

How secure is this island chain and what is it supposed to be secure against? The security of Japan is the heart of the matter. Japan is the big prize in Asia because it is the most highly industrialized country east of India and south of Siberia. It has the greatest reserve of technically trained manpower and strategically it dominates large areas of the Pacific.

At the very minimum, Japan must be denied to Soviet imperialism. Preferably Japan should become one of the showpieces of coöperation between East and West on a basis of political and social equality. It is this possibility of the development of mutuality of interest between a leading Asiatic country and the United States that the Communists probably dislike as much as anything else.

The extremes within Japan

The present mood of the Japanese intellectuals is interesting but not necessarily decisive. Many Japanese, in spite of the overwhelming vote for the Peace Treaty and the Security Pact, feel that they are trading peace for war. However generous the occupation in conception and execution, we should remember that generosity is sometimes harder to forgive than punishment. Many Japanese will therefore welcome the Treaty more than the Pact and be willing to accept the view that the dangers of war in Asia arise from the rivalries of two giants rather than from an obviously impotent Japan.

On the left are many who feel that the early promise of the occupation was abandoned, that the Old Guard is back, the labor unions are curbed, the Zaibatsu are in the saddle, and the land reforms are being eaten away. The Security Pact, far from bringing security, they argue, will bring war because the U.S.S.R. and China are left out and their aggression is thus invited.

Japanese of this persuasion would agree with a great deal of current Australian comment to the effect that there has been no basic political change in Japan — no new political leaders have emerged since the war — and that once Japan feels the heady wine of full sovereignly again, she will lean to the continent. The Australians are particularly inclined to think that the U.S. will not support Japan indefinitely and that Japanese economic dependence on the mainland will tend to make Japan join China rather than fight the West’s battles.

One danger in Japan ts that there is a basis for union between the extremes of the right and the left. Both are antidemocratic, both are neutralist, both are in a position to appeal to the crassest nationalist traditions. The center groups are ambivalent about the Security Pact and are put in the position of apologizing for the presence of foreign troops. It is significant that the Japanese socialists, who in the context of Japanese politics must be considered the center group, have split into moderates, supporting both Treaty and Pact, and leftists, joined by labor, who oppose both and insist on Chinese and Russian participation.

The pull of China

The argument that Japan depends on the mainland needs no documentation. We know that the problem of livelihood in Japan is the most pressing of all; that the Cubed States has subsidized Japan to the tune of two billion dollars in five years; that important raw materials, especially coking coal, come most economically from China; that Japan‘s empire has been torn away from her; and that the biggest markets on the mainland are coming more and more under hostile control.

If we want to keep Japan as a friendly partner, Japan‘s economy has to be geared once again into that of the rest of Asia. To do this without China is serious enough; to do it without access to Southeast Asia would be almost impossible. The struggle for Southeast Asia is indeed a struggle between two enormous power blocs for economic survival of their members. Russia’s ally China needs the rice surplus and the raw materials of Southeast Asia just as much as does Japan. The pull of China is strong enough even if Japan has access to Southeast Asia, but if that area came under Chinese control the pull would be powerful indeed.

Yet the economic argument does not answer the whole question. We have had sufficient examples elsewhere in the colonial and ex-colonial world to know that strong emotional factors have dominated what seemed to be immediate and long-range economic self-interest. It is quite possible to visualize a fat and prosperous Japan, pouring her goods and people all over the Pacific again, yet still turning to China and oven to the Soviet Union. Japan’s economic problems must be solved, but we would be unwise to let the economic problems overshadow the political realities.

Asia’s fears

One of these realities is the enormous potential anti-American feeling in Japan, the possibility of our being involved in the bitterness of civil war in that country, the continuing fear of revived Japanese aggression in other parts of Asia, the political prestige of the first strong Chinese government in a century.

India is so sensitive to the presence of foreign troops on other people’s soil that she refused to sign the Japanese Peace Treaty unless all American forces were withdrawn from Japan and the Ryukyus. We have to prevent a Communist seizure of Japan whether or not the Indians like it, but we also have to deal with altitudes such as these and respect them.

But if some of our friends in Asia seem unreasonable we might remind ourselves of Irish neutrality during World War II, or of the neutral role of Egypt and much of India in the same period. We might also remind ourselves of the patience and understanding extended towards these peoples by the British government at a time of extreme crisis.

The same kind of patience and respect for the feelings of others is needed now. For the real test in Japan is not ihe economic but the political. It is whether we can change from the role of conqueror, however benevolent, to that of an ally in a common cause. The psychological and practical difficulties of treating Japan as a sovereign state are not to be underestimated. Most countries in Asia do not think th;it wc shall make the effort, and few would give us credit even if we succeed.

Treaties are not enough

The security treaties and the Japanese Peace Treaty are well conceived. They represent not only as much as can be achieved at present but also as much as should have been attempted in the current state of Asia.

A general system of security on a regional basis was out of the question, but anything less than what we have done would have left the door open for Soviet aggression against a valuable industrial base and a potentially democratic people. But the treaties created a new situation. Now that Japan is to be open again to the ideological winds of the world, it is clear that the island chain cannot be held together merely by force of arms and treaty obligations.

The problem of adjusting AmericanJapanese relations is tough enough in itself; it is particularly difficult when we recall Japan’s recent history. There was the attempt to conquer Asia, which has left a residue of hatred for Japan in many countries. But there was also the drive to get rid of Western influence, the Japanese arms given to nationalist move - ments at the end of the war, and the independence granted some countries during the conflict — however phony. Japan was the first Asiatic power to heap indignities on America and to show it up for a “Paper Tiger.”

There are many crosscurrents. What happens in the rest of Asia will have a great deal to do with what happens in Japan. What happens in Japan can also affect the rest of Asia. To take but one example, Japan could make itself a real bulwark against Communism if it were to assure the success of land reforms at home. Here is one step which could help to turn the tide against Communist exploitation of land hunger and nationalism in many countries. Or Japan could undo most of the postwar reforms and lead the way in social and political reaction.

It matters a good deal to us which way Japan goes, for she can help to determine the emotional climate of Asia — a concern of decisive importance to our security.