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

Terrorism and Japan-U.S. Relations
MATSUYAMA Yukio / Professor of Kyoritsu Women's University

October 27, 2001
September 11, 2001 will be long remembered as a "day of infamy" - a day which saw the cruelest form of terrorism in the history of mankind. Who in the world could have imagined that human beings were capable of undertaking such a well-prepared and heinous act of mass murder against fellow human beings in peacetime? Many Japanese were among those who fell victim to the atrocity. Our hatred towards the terrorists only increase as our thoughts dwell on the untimely death of those who were denied their promising futures, and the grief of the families they left behind. If civilized society fails to take a resolute stand against such a barbaric challenge, the world will succumb to chaos.

On a personal level, I used to pay frequent visits to the World Trade Center while I was posted in New York as a newspaper correspondent, spent four years living in an apartment near the Pentagon while I was a correspondent in Washington, D.C. and passed through Boston Airport many times during my Harvard days. Above all, my eldest daughter and her husband currently work in Manhattan. So the latest simultaneous terrorist attacks hit very close to home for me. This is why some of us Japanese who had lived in Washington D.C. placed a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post declaring that "the Japanese will fight alongside Americans to defend democracy, freedom and human dignity."

So far, the U.S. administration of President George Bush has been pursuing the right strategy of not making an enemy out of Islam and focusing the attack on extremist fundamentalist terrorists. Most followers of Islam are moderates, and are able to coexist with both Christians and Buddhists. It is important to guide the campaign away from any notions of a "Clash of Cultures" or a "Crusade."

At the same time, this may be the appropriate time for developed countries - especially the United States - to deepen their understanding of the absolute poverty and political isolation felt by the Islamic fundamentalists. In no way am I suggesting this from a sense of compromise, such as seen in the saying: "even thieves have some reason on their side." Terrorism is 100% evil. And it goes without saying that poverty and political isolation do not justify terrorism.

However, no matter how well we succeed in pinning down the guerillas in Afghanistan by military force, it would be impossible to prevent terrorism from occurring again somewhere in the world if the developed countries leave the desperation felt by the "Have-nots" untended as something of no concern to the "Haves." To avoid this from becoming a game of "prairie dog hunting," we must consider providing "medication" aimed at physical recovery in addition to the "surgical operation." Recently, the United States had seemed somewhat unenthusiastic towards realizing a negotiated peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine.

National consensus in Japan lies somewhere along the lines of "offering whatever cooperation possible within the limits of the Constitution" advocated by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The split in opinion regarding the actual scope of activities of the Self Defense Forces is to be expected, considering our Constitution and historical development, and is a sign of health in a free society that respects diversity.

Rather, it is time Japan took advantage of not having colonized the Middle East nor having played a part in the creation of the state of Israel, to actively pursue its own Middle East diplomacy separately from its efforts to act in step with the United States in combating terrorism.

The writer is a professor of international relations at Kyoritsu Women's University. He previously served as the Asahi Shimbun's General American Bureau Chief and Chairman of the Editorial Board.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

松山 幸雄 / 共立女子大学教授

2001年 10月 27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) > Terrorism and Japan-U.S. Relations