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

Special Dialogue on Japan-U.S. Relations, Part 2
– Matters of concern about the future of Japan-U.S. relations
Yasushi Watanabe: Professor at Keio University. / 
Sadaaki Numata: Chairman, The English-Speaking Union of Japan and former ambassador to Canada and Pakistan.

December 15, 2022
1. The Okinawa issue
Watanabe: Do you have any concerns about the future of Japan-U.S. relations?

Numata: It has been quite a while since I was directly involved in Japan-U.S. relations, but I think there are two things. One is that as the tension mounted over Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attack in the U.S. in 2001, I advised Japanese residents in Pakistan to evacuate temporarily, and in 2002 when India and Pakistan came to the brink of war, I was very concerned because both countries have nuclear weapons, and I again advised Japanese residents in Pakistan to evacuate. After that, I went to Okinawa as Ambassador in charge of Okinawan Affairs, and I tried to tell the people there, based on my experience in Pakistan, that deterrence was necessary to counter existential threats, but it was very difficult to get my message across. Until then, I had been actively delivering my messages abroad as a spokesperson, giving speeches at various places in London and giving interviews with BBC and other TV channels. But in Okinawa, I had no choice but to refrain from active communication and concentrate on defending the Japan-U.S. alliance and the existence of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

In the midst of all this, the U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crash occurred in August 2004. After the accident, we kept telling the U.S. side a number of times not to fly the same type of helicopter until the cause of the crash was clarified, but one day, the U.S. side, with only a couple of hours’ notice, flew several helicopters of the same type. We told them again and again to stop, but they went ahead, and the people of Okinawa were very angry. The U.S. side probably decided to fly the helicopters for operations in Iraq, but we did not know because they did not say for what kind of operations. The trouble I had as I tried to explain this to the people of Okinawan is that, although the top leaders of Japan and the U.S. shared the recognition in the abstract of the importance of the alliance, I felt a bit uncertain when it came to the nitty-gritty of actual operations. How much did the leaders in Washington, for example, understand the feelings of the people of Okinawa? As for Japan, we did have the clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office to urge the U.S. side to stop the flight, it is open to question how far we could have gone on insisting that the flight should not take place because it would hurt Okinawan feelings too much. Going forward, there may well be similar problems. Tricky issues are getting closer and closer, what with the deployment of the Self-Defense Forces to the Nansei Islands, the U.S. military aircraft launched from Kadena, and the still unresolved issue of the relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. These remaining issues in Okinawa give me cause for concern.

2. Resilience of U.S. society
Numata: Another issue is related to the U.S. midterm elections. Whenever changes occurring in the United States threatened to go to extremes, I always said that the American people have resilience. When things seemed to take a bad turn, they sprung back to the right course. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned about whether such resilience is at work this time around.

Watanabe: Trump has politically exploited the concerns and grievances of those whites and others who have been left behind by prosperity and are losing their place in today's America by calling them the “forgotten people”. Trump's “America First” is not simply a matter of putting his country's interests first but is a much darker sentiment. In other words, America First means that the U.S. has been exploited by the international community and America’s allies, and the U.S. needs to take back its fair share. Biden has been trying to return to international cooperation, but public opinion in the U.S. remains inward-looking. On Ukraine, the U.S. has been positively supportive but is reluctant to involve itself directly. We really cannot expect the U.S. to be the world leader it once was. Such being the case, we need to share among like-minded countries more of the burden thus far borne by the U.S. Regarding the U.S.-China conflict, admittedly there is a rivalry between them, but it is not simply a bilateral “U.S.-China conflict”. No one country can stand alone against China. Like-minded countries should rally together and hedge against China by constantly overwhelming China with the sum total of their economic and defense power. We do not want the U.S. to meddle with us, but, on the other hand, it is becoming outdated to be dependent on the U.S.

Numata: I was moved when I read the book Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, who was elected to the Senate from Ohio in the midterm elections, about the plight of poor white workers in the U.S. He now strongly supports Trump, doesn't he?

Watanabe: Initially, I thought it was great that he was going to be a senator, but I was surprised to see how much he has snuggled up to Trump. He might be a little too opportunistic.

Numata: The Democrats solidified their camp in being anti-Trump, but what will happen from now on? Related to what you just said, will things like growth policies for working families be on the agenda?

Watanabe: They are talking about "foreign policy for the middle class". Foreign policy these days has to be always conducted with domestic public opinion in mind, and things like the U.S.’s role in the world and the lofty cause of the international community no longer resonate with the American public. Certainly, some among the younger generation are interested in environmental issues, nuclear issues, and the problems of the Global South. But their mood is to work together with Japan and other partners, rather than the U.S. taking the lead to tackle these issues.

I have felt recently that Japan is less influenced by populism than other countries, and radical populists have not risen to the center of national politics as they have in Europe and the United States. Although there are many challenges within Japan, it is also one of the few developed countries that are politically stable. In this sense, I believe that trust in Japan is increasing. Selling Tomahawk missiles to Japan would not have been possible during the Obama era. That is how much Japan is being relied upon in this era.

3. Nuclear weapons
Numata: I myself followed the U.S. defense policy in Washington, D.C. (1978-82), and then worked as the director of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty Division, and later served in Okinawa. I have always been concerned about how to think about the nuclear issue. During my time as director of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty Division (1984-85), I was concerned primarily with quasi-theological debates in the Diet interpellations, and could not talk about how to think about nuclear weapons in the context of actual military operations. At that time, the S.D.I. (Strategic Defense Initiative), also called Star Wars, was launched. but it was highly technical, specialized, and also seemed grandiose, perhaps fit for deliberations by people like Dr. Strangelove. It was not easy for us to think about how Japan could digest it.

Before that, when I was interpreting for our Prime Ministers at dinners on the occasion of the G7 summit in the late 1970s, there were animated discussions in Europe about theater nuclear forces (TNF, later called INF). As Chancellor Schmidt of West Germany and others spoke passionately about the subject, the Japanese Prime Minister could not quite follow the exchange, which was not about the more familiar subject of disarmament, and silently closed his eyes. I believe that Prime Minister Nakasone understood the issue, as can be seen in the initiative he took in inserting the expression "the security of our countries is indivisible and must be approached on a global basis" in the Williamsburg Summit Statement in 1983. When I was with the Disarmament Delegation in Geneva in 1987-88, I received briefings from the U.S. team on the step-by-step progress of the INF negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. As I wrote the reporting telegrams, I could not help wondering to what extent the Japanese leaders really understood the issue.

Today, as Russia hinted at using nuclear weapons after its invasion of Ukraine, some in Japan have suggested that Japan should consider nuclear sharing with the U.S., as some NATO countries have done. If we followed the NATO example, we would not only bring nuclear weapons into Japan but also have them constantly stockpiled in Japan under strict U.S. custody and use them in an emergency with the consent of the U.S. I have to wonder if the Japanese leadership understands that this would require a very difficult decision. I think it is dangerous to go charging ahead without really discussing and understanding the issues involved.

Watanabe: In NATO, there was originally nuclear sharing, and when the NPT regime came into being, it was decided to make nuclear sharing an exception. If Japan were to adopt nuclear sharing now, it would mean reversing the process when the NPT regime is already established.

Numata: Regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, I wonder if it might be possible for Japan, as a country that has suffered atomic bombings, to participate in the Conference of the Parties as an observer, but this does not seem possible under our current security regime which is based on our reliance on the deterrence of the United States.

I happen to have been involved in both security and disarmament issues. In Japan, there is a strict dichotomy between the idealistic proponents of disarmament, such as the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the realistic proponents of security, such as nuclear deterrence. Some people may have been studying nuclear strategy and other issues for a long time, but those discussions have not really come to the fore. However, with the focus on Ukraine, experts from the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) have come to appear in public and I have been impressed by the depth of their research.

Watanabe: Their age is roughly the same as mine or a little younger, but I feel there is a slight difference in temperature between them and the generation above them. Even with regard to Russia, there are many occasions when scholars of the Russian School and some politicians try to show understanding toward Russia, to which the generation below them raises objections. The war in Ukraine has exposed such a generation gap.

Numata:Is the spell being broken in the sense that the inhibition of the past is fading away?

Watanabe: Perhaps so. I think this is the age of realism. However, I also think that it is unrealistic in another sense to move all at once toward self-reliant defense and nuclear sharing.

Yasushi Watanabe is a professor at Keio University.
Sadaaki Numata is Chairman, The English-Speaking Union of Japan and a former ambassador to Canada and Pakistan.

The English-Speaking Union of Japan

スペシャル対談 日米関係を論じる その2
渡辺 靖 慶應義塾大学教授 / 
沼田 貞昭 日本英語交流連盟会長、元駐カナダ、パキスタン大使

2022年 12月 15日

沼田:私が日米関係に直接携わってからかなり経っていますが、二つあると思います。一つは、パキスタンで2001年の9.11事件の後、アフガニスタンをめぐる緊張状況の中で在留邦人に一時退避を勧め、2002年にはインド・パキスタンが一触即発の事態になり、両国とも核兵器を持っているので非常に心配して在留邦人に再び退避を進めました。その後沖縄大使として沖縄に行って、パキスタンでの経験を踏まえて、やはり抑止力は必要ですと言う話をしてもなかなか通じなくて大変でした。それまで私は報道官とかロンドンではいろんなところでスピーチをするとかB B Cなどのインタビューを受けるとか対外発信をずっとやってきましたが、沖縄では、積極的発信を控えて日米同盟と在沖米軍基地の存在を守ることに専念するほかなく苦労しました。



渡辺:繁栄から取り残されて今日のアメリカの中で居場所を失いつつある白人などを「忘れられた人々」と称し、彼らの不安や不満をトランプは政治的に利用しました。トランプが掲げた「アメリカ第一主義」は、単に自国の利益を第一に考えるということではなく、もっとダークな感情です。つまり、アメリカが国際社会や同盟国から搾取されてきた、だからその正当な分前を取り返してゆくというのがアメリカ第一主義です。バイデンは国際協調主義への回帰を目指しているが、アメリカの世論は内向きなままです。ウクライナに関しても支援には前向きですが、直接的な関与には消極的です。アメリカがかつてのような世界のリーダーとなることは期待できないと思う。ならば、アメリカが担ってきた役割を志を同じくする国々(like-minded countries)でもっと分かち合っていく必要があると思う。米中対立についても、アメリカと中国がライバル関係にあることは確かですが、「米中対立」と二国間の関係にしてしまっては良くない。もはやどの国も一国で中国に対抗することはできないので、志を同じくする国々(like-minded countries)が結束し、経済力と防衛力の合計で常に中国を圧倒し、中国に対してヘッジをかけておく必要があると思う。アメリカに関与されるのも嫌だけど、その一方でアメリカに依存するというのは時代遅れになっていると思います。

沼田:今度の中間選挙でオハイオ州から上院議員に選ばれたJ. D. ヴァンスが米国の貧困白人労働者の悲哀を描いたヒルビリーエレジーという本を読んだ時は感動しましたが、彼は今やトランプを強く支持しているのですね。





沼田: 私自身、ワシントン(1978−82年)でアメリカの国防政策をフォローして、それから安保課長をやって、その後沖縄にもいましたが、核の問題をどう考えるかはずっと気になっています。安保課長時代(1984−85年)は国会答弁の神学論争ばかりやっていたので、核兵器についても実際の軍事的オペレーションの中でどう考えるかという話はできなかった。安保課長の時にS D Iの話が出てきましたが、あれはスターウォーズとも言われましたが、ものすごく専門的・技術的で、いわばドクター・ストレンジラブみたいな人たちがする壮大な話でこれを日本としてどう消化したら良いか考えるのは大変でした。

その前に1970年代後半にG7サミットのディナーの通訳をしていた時に、当時欧州では戦域核(T N F、その後のI N F)の論議が盛んでシュミット西独首相などが熱弁を振るうと、軍縮の話というわけではないし、ついていけなくて目を瞑ってしまう総理もおられました。中曽根総理は1982年のウイリアムズバーグ・サミットのステートメントに「我々サミット参加国の安全は不可分であり、グローバルな観点から取り組まなければならない。」との表現を挿入するイニシアチブをとったことに示されるように問題を理解していたと思う。1987−88年、私はジュネーブの軍縮代表部にいた時に米ソ間のI N F交渉の米国チームから交渉の進捗状況について逐一ブリーフを受けましたが、報告電報を書きながら、日本の首脳はこのようなことを果たして理解しているのかなとの感を禁じ得なかった。

今日ウクライナに侵攻したロシアが核の使用を仄めかすのに対して、日本国内では一部のN A T O諸国のように米国との核共有(Nuclear Sharing)も考えたらどうかという意見も出ていますが、N A T Oの例に倣うとすれば、核兵器を持ち込むのみならず普段米国の厳しい管理の下に日本に保管しておいて、いざという時には米国のO Kを取った上で使うということですから、日本の指導者として大変な決断が必要になることは理解されているのかなと思わざるを得ません。議論がされておらずよくわからないまま行け行けどんどんと進んで行くのは危ないと思います。

渡辺:N A T Oでは元々核共有があってその後にできたN P Tの例外ということにしたが、N P Tが現に存在するのに今さら核共有を日本がやろうとするのは逆ですよね。





沼田貞昭は日本英語交流連盟会長、元駐カナダ、パキスタン大使。本稿で言及している外務省現役時代の経験については、政策研究大学院大学学術研究機関リポジトリー「沼田貞昭オーラルヒストリー(元カナダ大使)」を参照。U R L 沼田貞昭オーラルヒストリー
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) > Special Dialogue on Japan-U.S. Relations, Part 2
– Matters of concern about the future of Japan-U.S. relations