Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

After victory in the anti-terrorist campaign
HANABUSA Masamichi  / Chairman, The English-Speaking Union of Japan

September 24, 2001
The gigantic underwater portion of the iceberg of Japanese psyche unmistakably condemns the latest terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York. Sympathy and the sense of compassion for the bereaved is genuine and immense, as shown by a mound of flowers in front of the US Embassy in Tokyo placed there by countless Japanese citizens.

Prime Minister Koizumi's determination to close ranks with America's allies to punish the culprits is also widely shared in Japan. If handled wisely, the Japanese Government will be able to arrive at certain positive answers for a role of Japan as a member of the anti-terrorist coalition.

It must be pointed out, however, that despite such a growing national consensus supporting the Prime Minister's initiative, there exists in the minds of many well-meaning Japanese intellectuals as well as men and women in the street, a vague anxiety that military response alone may not achieve our common task of eliminating the roots of terrorism.

The anxiety is that if there are very deep-rooted dissatisfactions in the society, force and coercion alone will not be enough to maintain peace and security in any society. Uninhibited by the dogmas of monotheistic religions, many Japanese tend to see things in a more relativistic manner; hence they tend to feel that retaliation would breed retaliation in an endless lethal spiral. Such a thought may be brushed aside off hand in the Western society as a fallacy, which treats terrorism and counter measure against it on an equal footing. Logically the latter is a more realistic view, as there is no assurance that the detestable criminals, left with impunity, would not continue such activities of violence.

There is no question the criminals must be caught and made to pay for their deeds. The whole world must unite for this purpose. The crux of the problem, however, is that the suppression of terrorists and their protectors is not the necessary and sufficient condition for restoring peace and security for all of us. Frankly speaking, if deep-rooted dissatisfactions are not to be redressed, the root cause will remain to fester. Therefore, if we are to reassure our security, not only terrorists should be uprooted, but the root cause should also be eliminated.

Some Western observers would object to my use of the term "root cause", as it is difficult to establish causality between the emergence of extraordinary terrorism of this kind and apparent dissatisfactions in the Islamic world. Setting aside the issu of the root cause, however, it is difficult not to see that large segments of the Arab and Islamic worlds have a significant degree of sympathy towards those hateful terrorists.

In this sense, the well-organized terrorism in New York and elsewhere this time is entirely different from the case of a Japanese cult group a few years ago attacking innocent passengers in a subway train by the use of sarin gas. The cult did not receive any sympathy from the Japanese public, so they have all been arrested and put to justice.

The world of today is full of hotbeds for terrorists; if I name a few, Palestine, Kashmir, Kurdistan and so on. In addition, unbridled world trade in arms has made it very easy for the hot-blooded protesters against the status quo in these areas to obtain the means to turn their hatred into action. With good luck and god's speed, our anti-terrorist coalition may triumph this time over the terrorist network and its leaders who masterminded the despicable crime against humanity last week. Quiet may be restored and nothing as horrible may happen for a while. But if hotbeds for terrorists are not removed, like earthquakes or volcanoes, underground energy would accumulate and some day again create havoc. The peaceful period could be a dangerous prelude to a new catastrophe.

In parallel with the suppression of terrorists together with their training camps and financial sources, therefore, much more efforts must be made seriously in other areas. Above anything else, the world must build into its global system an effective mechanism to promote peaceful changes in the world's major flash-points. Probably the UN Charter should be revised to accommodate such a mechanism.

In the 1930s major have-not nations formed the Axis and challenged the status quo of the day. After the ensuing destructive war, the Americans took the noble initiative to liberalize access to markets in products and natural resources. That has assured the world more than half a century of peace. We too, must now look beyond the victory in the forthcoming anti-terrorism campaign and prepare for a more stable peace by addressing more seriously the many deep-rooted dissatisfactions that exist in the contemporary world.

The writer is Chairman of the English-Speaking Union of Japan. He was a former Ambassador to Italy.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

英 正道 / 日本英語交流連盟会長

2001年 9月 24日











一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > After victory in the anti-terrorist campaign