Japan’s Military Independence Is Inevitable

By Theodore Shoebat

Shinzo Abe just recently resigned from his position as prime minister. Abe just affirmed that his successor will likely tackle Japan’s pacifist constitution which forbids Japan from going to war. As we read in a recent report from US News:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes that whoever succeeds him is likely to tackle the issue of reforming the pacifist constitution, he said on Friday, referring to an issue that eluded him during his years in office.
Abe, Japan’s longest serving premier, made the comment at a news conference where he announced his resignation.

Changing the pacifist nature of the constitution has been a goal of Japan’s nationalist faction going all the way back to when Shinzo Abe’s fascist grandfather, Nobusuke Kishe, was the prime minister of Japan. Perhaps Abe’s resignation has some kind of connection to a wider conspiracy towards bringing Japan closer and closer to militarism. Let us look into some of the political machinations of Japan and the US after the Second World War, and we shall find that Japan’s road to militarism is inevitable.

Let us begin with Nobusuke Kishe, Shinzo Abe’s grandfather. He was an economic planner for the Japanese empire, and he was inspired by Stalin’s Soviet Russia, although he was a committed fascist. He served as the deputy minister for industrial development in the Japanese territory of Manchukuo, which consisted of Northeast China and Inner Mongolia. Kishe would form Manchukuo into an economic powerhouse of industry, founded on slavery, the black market and opium selling. Kishe was essentially a cartel leader for the Japanese government, funneling opium abroad thanks to his connections with organized crime. In 1940, Kishe moved back to Japan where he would be a signatory to the declaration of war against the United States in 1941. During the war, Kishe acted as a slave master, using slaves from China and Korea to do labor for the empire. As Michael Schaller writes about Kishe: “As minister of Commerce and Industry and later head of the Munitions Ministry, he had overseen the forced conscription of hundreds of thousands of Korean and Chinese laborers and been responsible for military production.”

After the war, Kishe found himself in prison waiting to be tried as a Class A war criminal. But, the Americans came to his aid in 1948, getting him out of jail and putting him back into politics so that he could combat the rising Left-wing in Japan. It is no wonder that Kishe was called “America’s favorite war criminal”. From being a war criminal, he was now a favored politician of the Americans, Kishe, in 1957, visited the United States, where he addressed both Houses of Congress, thrown out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game, and joined Eisenhower in a game of golf. The Gladio policy of helping fascists after the Second World War in order to weaponize them against the Soviets was at work here.

The United States shifted its policy from one of containing Japan and providing reparations to the victims of Japanese aggressions, to making Japan into the main American satellite to control China and ceasing reparations. This policy was advocated for by American diplomat George Kennan who argued that Japan must be redeveloped as the “cornerstone of a Pacific Security system.” The “radically changed world situation,” Kennan determined in 1947, “required that Japan be made internally stable, amenable to American leadership, and industrially revived as a producer . . . of consumer goods and secondarily of capital goods.” Had it not been for General Douglas MacArthur, the Truman administration would have “reversed course” in Japan by the end of 1947, as it did in Germany. Rather, it wasn’t until the middle of 1948, after MacArthur’s campaign failures, that such a shift in policy was done. Once MacArthur was out of the way, Truman moved quickly to carry out the Japanese policy exhorted by Kennan. By the end of 1948, the US ceased its war crimes trials and cut off reparations to Japan’s wartime victims. The US also executed a policy to intensely reinvigorate Japan’s economy. As Michael Schaller explains:

“Washington encouraged the Japanese government to rein in organized labor and named Detroit banker Joseph Dodge “economic czar” to “crank up” Japan’s economy by imposing central planning designed to maximize export production at the expense of domestic consumption. Dodge encouraged the creation of powerful government planning and trade ministries, such as MITI, to promote export production by large, integrated firms. These new priorities, resembling many of Kishi’s wartime economic control measures, led directly to Kishi’s release from prison and his return to politics by the time the Occupation ended.”

The term used to label this sudden shift was “the Reverse Course policy.” Playing a key role behind the Reverse Course policy was a cabal of influential Americans who identified Kishi as being one of the best officials to lead Japan. This group consisted of people like Newsweek foreign affairs editor Harry Kern, Newsweek Tokyo bureau chief Compton Packenham, corporate lawyer James L. Kauffman, the retired diplomat and ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew, and Eugene Dooman, a retired diplomat who served under Grew in Tokyo. These men created the ”American Council on Japan” (ACJ) with the aim of changing occupation policy.

This circle of influencers had close ties to numerous leading Japanese businessmen and political leaders and acted as mediators between them and the US government. These American and Japanese schemers were adamantly against Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru for his resistance to rearmament and military cooperation with the US.

From 1947 to 1952, ACJ members such as Kern, Dooman, Kauffman, and Packenham held a frequent flow of influence towards the policy views of Kennan and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and coordinating meetings in Tokyo between the visiting American envoys and their Japanese connections, amongst whom were even members of the emperor’s household, former military officers, purged Japanese business leaders and politicians. In order to clean up Kishi’s image in the early 1950s, Packenham taught Kishi English and Kern worked as his public relations consultant, planning trips for Kishi to Europe and the United States.

In 1953, Kishi was a member of the Liberal Party, but in 1954 he led 200 members of this party to join the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the very party of Japan’s just resigned prime minister, Shinzo Abe (Kishi’s grandson). In 1955, the LDP came to power, and to this day (with the exception of a handful of years) it remains the dominating political power of the country. There is a reason for this: the Americans were the ones who helped put the LDP in power.

Also in the campaign of Kishi, we see the dark circle of industry and politics. Kishi’s political career was getting financed by two major Japanese industrialists, Fujiyama Aiichiro and Kodama Yoshio, who served in the Sugamo prison after the war and amassed a tremendous amount of wealth in Japanese occupied China, but began working with American intelligence during the Korean War when he smuggled tungsten out of China.

Several events took place before the ascension of Kishi’s administration. For one, there was the economic downturn that took place in the end of 1954 due to the Korean War. Secondly, the Americans were getting agitated with the Yoshida administration’s reluctance towards Japanese rearmament. When Yoshida began losing support from his base, he was forced to resign from the government. The US Ambassador to Japan, John Allison, pressured Japan’s conservative parties to back Kishi as the next prime minister. Kishi collaborated with Allison by combining their efforts to unify the conservative parties, and this unity was eventually achieved in 1955. Kishi also assured Allison that “for the next twenty five years it would be in Japan’s best interests to cooperate closely with the United States.” Although the Americans were pressuring the Japanese to appoint Kishi, someone else, Hatoyama Ichiro, was elected prime minister.

Ichiro exasperated America’s frustrations by also resisting pressure to rearm Japan and to amend the “no war” clause in the Japanese constitution. Ichiro also did not mind expanding trade deals with the Chinese, which also enraged the Americans. Ichiro also worked to negotiate a peace treaty with the Soviet Union, which angered Dulles. When it looked like a peace negotiation between the Japanese and Russians was coming to a close, Dulles quickly thwarted it by threatening Japan with permanent US occupation of Okinawa. Ichiro’s support for Japanese companies to widen commerce with China angered the US Treasury Secretary George Humphrey so much that he said: “we could not hope to keep Japan as a loyal ally. . . if it became dependent economically on Communist China.”

Trade would hand the “Chinese Communists a terrible club to hold over Japan.” The averseness towards Japanese-Chinese cooperation was more about protecting American sales. Dulles expressed concern that American consumers would reject Japanese products as merely “cheap imitations of our own.” The only “solution” for Japan, Dulles stated, was to sell goods to and get raw materials from “presently underdeveloped areas such as Southeast Asia.”

There was also another thing that really terrified the Americans: the rise of the Japanese Left-wing. There was a rising party, the Japan Socialist Party, that was gaining popularity for its calls for economic reform, being more open to dealing with China, and ending Japan’s military partnership with the US. American political analysts predicted that the Japan Socialist Party could win just as many seats as the US backed LDP. This projection was to the consternation of the Americans, and they knew that they needed to support a nationalist — truly, a fascist — as a bulwark against the Left.

The US ambassador to Tokyo, Douglas MacArthur II (nephew of the famous general), affirmed that Kishi was their only hope to fight the Left. MacArthur told Dulles that Kishi needed to be made prime minister, but this was only going to happen if the Americans shifted their position on Japanese security, thus allowing Japan to be militarily independent. MacArthur warned in 1957 that Japan faced a “turning point.” If Japan did not have a nationalist like Kishi for its prime minister, and if Japan did not shift towards having a military, then her relations with the US would degrade “in an atmosphere of acrimony and mounting hostility.” Japan would become overly neutral — and that would mean deepening relations with China and Russia.

Dulles was convinced that the US had to contrive a new treaty with Japan and to back the LDP. For him, Kishi was “the “only bet we had left in Japan.” Dulles and Eisenhower resolved that “the time had come to take the initiative in proposing a readjustment” to the security treaty and to support Kishi. In 1957, Kishi visited the US where he was given a hospitable welcome. After his visit, Eisenhower was convinced that the CIA needed to begin influencing Japanese politics. The CIA got “private” Americans as conduits by which to finance Kishi’s political circle within the LDP. The purpose of getting money through third party donors was so that Kishi and his gang could deny ever getting financial help from the US government. It has even been reported that some of these American funds went into helping the Japan Socialist Party. This was not to help the Leftists, but to, firstly, gain intelligence about them, and secondly, to subvert and divide the entire party. According to a 2006 report from the Japan Times:

The CIA secretly sent money to the Liberal Democratic Party in the 1950s and 1960s to help stabilize the LDP-led government and prevent a leftist administration from emerging, according to a U.S. document released Tuesday.

The document, titled “Foreign Relations of the United States, Vol. XXIX, Part 2,” also suggests that some of the CIA money went to moderate members of the now-defunct Japan Socialist Party, the LDP’s rival at the time, apparently to help them form a moderate breakaway.

It is the first time the U.S. government has formally admitted having a covert financial program for Japanese politicians, a State Department official involved in compiling the document said.

Additional money reportedly went to so-called moderate elements within the JSP, with the aim of securing political intelligence, boosting their numbers, and encouraging ideological warfare within the party. While the exact amount of secret funding remains uncertain, sums as high as $10 million may have been spent annually between 1958 and 1960.

The document did not go into details about the recipients but apparently referred to LDP bigwigs who had gained a grip on power under Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, who took office in 1957, and Hayato Ikeda, who succeeded Kishi in 1960.

“The recipient Japanese candidates were told only that they were getting support from American businessmen,” the document said.

Washington was then “concerned that potential electoral success by leftist political forces would strengthen Japanese neutralism and eventually pave the way to a leftist government in Japan,” it said.

“Another U.S. covert action in Japan sought to reduce the chances that extreme leftwing politicians would be elected,” it said.

Eisenhower’s administration authorized a similar financial program during 1959 “to try to split off the moderate wing of the leftist opposition in the hope that a more pro-American and ‘responsible’ opposition party would emerge.”

The document suggested the amount of secret money for the moderate group in the JSP came to $75,000 in 1960, when a predecessor of the Democratic Socialist Party was formed as a moderate JSP breakaway. “It (the aid) continued basically at that level through the early 1960s,” the document said.”

According to Michael Schaller:

“Evidence in a variety of open and still classified U.S. government documents strongly indicates that early in 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, making what he and his aides earlier called a “big bet,” authorized the CIA to provide secret campaign funds to Japanese Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke–formerly an accused war criminal–and selected members of the Liberal Democratic Party.”

A man who declared war on the United States was now getting support… from the United States. Such a dark reality should make us rethink the common narrative of “fighting for our freedoms,” when it appears that soldiers are sent out to die not for the cause of liberty, but for the maintenance of the American empire. The United States backed men like Kishi because they wanted the fascists and nationalists to be in power in order to prevent Japan from being influenced by the Soviet Union. This meant putting “Japan, Germany and other affiliates of the Axis back to work.” Just as the CIA backed the Mujahideen (which eventually led to the 9/11 attacks), so the CIA backed Japan which the US is eventually going to have to deal with. 

America’s investment was successful. The LDP kept almost all of its seats in the Diet’s lower house in the 1958 election, while the Left-wing socialists were lost in complaining and would eventually fragment. For the next 18 months, Kishi worked closely with Ambassador MacArthur to changing the 1951 security treaty, making it allow for Japan to have air, naval, repair and logistic facilities. The changes even allowed for nuclear weapons to move through Japan. 

Kishi’s Manchukuo contacts were now back in Japan and they helped him merge together a strong network between the government and the captains of postwar Japanese industry. These captains were pejoratively referred to as Kishi no chokinbako (the Kishi Savings Bank). There were also rumors that Kishi’s government was financed by the “M-Fund”, or gold that was hoarded by the Japanese empire only to be taken by the Americans who used it to fund anti-communist operations. It has been said that Kishi convinced president Nixon to sign over control of the M-Fund to him in 1957, and have the money to himself and into Japan’s reindustrialization. The system of merging industry and government was accelerated by Kishi. In the words of Jonathan Clements: “It was often said that Japan’s postwar growth had been managed by an ‘iron triangle’ of interests ever since the days of Kishi Nobusuke, compromising the corporations, the bureaucracy, and the ministries that offered support.” (Clements, A Brief History of Japan, ch. 10, p. 243)

So in Japan we can see several things that Westerners are not too familiar with: the government and industry and dangerously united; the United States wanted Japan to become more militarily independent, the current ruling party in Japan (the Liberal Democratic Party or LDP), is backed by the United States because of its nationalist and militarist ideology, and was funded by the CIA as a way to make sure that Japan could be used as a US satellite against China and Russia. With this, we can have an awareness as to the current situation in East Asia: the Americans need Japan to scare China and Russia, but this is impossible unless the US allows Japan to become militarily capable; the Japanese want to become militarily independent, and if the US gives her an inch of freedom, she will take a mile. Japanese military independence is going to be a reality in the future, as it has been expanding over the decades and enabled by the US. If you don’t believe us, Japan’s was once forbidden from having a military, now they have one of the largest militaries on earth.