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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Six US Experts to President Trump

     Today I have had an access to the full text of a joint letter sent by six American experts on the US-North Korean relations addressed to Donald Trump dated on 28 June 2017.  The six include George Shultz, a former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, or William Perry, a former Secretary of Defence under Bill Clinton. Therefore it is a by-partisan team.

     The letter strongly requests Trump soon to start negotiating with North Korea. It says that the the leadership on the other side has not yet lost reason.  It also says that China will give a helping hand on such an occasion.

     The experts have admitted that even in isolation the North has shown it possible to advance missile and nuclear technology.  They are sure that, unless diplomatic effort is made to stop such advance, there is little doubt that they will succeed in developing long-range missiles to deliver nuclear warheads to America.

     I believe that these six experts are speaking with a wide background and from a large viewpoint.  I therefore heartily support and welcome the letter.  I strongly hope that Japan's government would also support it.   

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hibakusha as against the PM

     Once again, for 72nd time, the anniversaries of the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have come, and gone, on 6 and 9 August, respectively.

     At the commemoration ceremonies held on these days,  a list of 5,530 names was dedicated who have passed during one year out of the radioactivity-survivors (Hibakusha) of Hiroshima, and of 3,551 names for Nagasaki.  These figures have brought the number of the total dead to 308,725 for Hiroshima, and 175,743 for Nagasaki, nearly half a million if put together.  There are 164,621 survivors at present.  Their average age is 81.41 years old.

     The atmosphere of these ceremonies was a bit different from the previous ones, as the Treaty banning the nuclear weapons, all of them, without an exception, was passed at the UN in July this year.  It has greatly encouraged the hope in that direction. Both the Mayors of the two cities have also expressed the hope in their speech, and appealed to the Japanese Government, who had not participated in the move, to join the tide and sign the Treaty.

     The one who was adamant not to do so was the Prime Minister himself.  Mr.Abe Shinzo said, in almost identical terms on the two occasions, that the Treaty will widen the gap between the nuclear powers and the non-nuclear powers. According to him, both of these groups should participate for such a programme to be effective, and he will make an effort to bridge the two sides, thus attacking the Treaty and justifying his indifference.

     Nobody has expressed dissatisfaction with such a view more strongly than the several groups of Hibakusha who met the PM at Nagasaki after the ceremony. They asked Abe straightaway of which country he was the Prime Minister?  Of course they were entitled to do so.             

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Banning the Nuclear Weapons

     7 July 2017 was a memorable day.  First of all it was a day when two stars, deeply in love with each other, met, as they used to do once on this day every year.  Children all over the country wrote down their wishes on a piece of paper and hung them on a bamboo tree.

     Secondly, it marked the 80th anniversary of the beginning of Japan's war with China, in 1937, which developed into a war with the USA and Britain after four years, ending on 15 August 1945.  The latter war itself was the outcome of China's strong resilience against Japan.  But on this, some other time.

     Finally, on this day, the UN passed a new Treaty.  It banned the use or threat of nuclear weapons, their experiments, production, or transfer.  It is comprehensive. It is the first such ban on the nuclear weapons, an international law, and the fruit of the long-time endeavour of countless number of people across the globe for this purpose.  They include many of the survivors in Japan of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 'hibakusha', and the Preamble of the Treaty explicitly refers to the pains they have endured so far.

     The idea and the draft of this law has been discussed during March, and then June to July, in the UN according to the resolution passed by the General Assembly in December the last.  It does not bind all the member countries.  Out of 124 countries, however, who participated in the Conference, 122 said yes to the final draft.  The civil society in general all over the world, and particularly many NGOs representing it, have been largely behind this overwhelming stream toward banning the nuclear weapons.

     As expected, all the Five nuclear powers did not join this stream.  Quite regrettably, the Japanese Government was also absent.  Some one has put a paper crane, symbolizing peace, in the seat of the Japanese representative, to a great discredit of our Government.  They say that it is of not much use to be at such a meeting because it would not narrow the distance between the big Five and the many.  Which is a poor excuse for not doing anything meaningful for the cause of the nuclear-free world.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

War Clouds in Asia?

     In his 100 days' commemorative speech, Mr. Donald Trump once again talked of a strong America and a great America.  His Administration is going to increase the military budget for the next year by over 10 %.

     Not only this.  A huge aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson has travelled all the way into the Japan Sea(which name is not liked by some nations in Asia, for example both Koreas, who prefer to call it the East Sea).  The mighty ship has not just been travelling.  Even on her way she has been escorted by two Japanese destroyers, which was in itself an exercise in joint naval operations.

     These Japanese ships, by the way, are officially called 'escort ships'.  Escorting what?  We have at last got a clear image that they are for escorting US carriers, to make up powerful air-and-sea strike forces.  The idea must have been in the brains of some far-sighted strategists of both countries, in spite of all that our Constitution says on non-possession of military potential.  The idea itself was a product of Japan's rearmament.

     Needless to say, Carl Vinson has come as a probable restraint against North Korea who has been experimenting missiles and rockets for the past months, and presumably is also planning to experiment nuclear weapons.  Where would you place China?  Mr. Trump has called Chairman Xi a good man in the above  speech.
DPRK to the contrary has openly criticized China for following the US.  Have the battle lines been drawn then? Not necessarily.  Mr. Trump has suddenly said he would like to meet Mr. Kim.  As another good man?  More importantly, three new US Secretaries have issued a statement which called for peaceful means to be adopted as well.

     There is a model called the Six-nation Conference for the non-nuclearization of DPRK.  The reconvening of something like this must be the immediate aim.  China is its Chair-country, but she is not confident enough at present.  So is Russia or South Korea.  The US is almost a one-man show, unpredictable, with most of the political appointments yet to be made.  Japan is simply a US follower with no independent initiative of her own.  A diplomatic vacuum prevails in the Far East.

     One thing more.  Unless the present nuclear powers get really serious with their nuclear disarmament, DPRK would not be willing to talk.      

       

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mr. Trump's Speech

     Mr. Donald Trump spoke on his policies in the joint session of the US Congress for about an hour on 28 February, his first in the Congress.  Let me extract a few relevant passages from there and place them in the broader question of peace and security in Asia-Pacific.

     He has confirmed his plan to build a gigantic wall along America's southern border, but we will not go into the problems of the Western hemisphere here. More familiar to our region is his determination to 'protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism'.  He also talked about new sanctions on Iran, and firm alliance with Israel.  I wonder, however, if, to be fair, in the eyes of an unarmed people of Palestine, Israel does not owe its existence to its armed might, call it terrorism if you like, assisted mainly by the US and Britain.  I wonder also if the Muslim countries including Iran have not been invaded either by the US or US-sponsored countries in recent history.  These issues have been discussed in these columns more than once, and let me not repeat them right now.

     Let me call attention to the phrase, 'My job is to represent the United States of America'.  Looks innocent, ordinary, and normal, in the first appearance.  But read it together with what he says on America's 'partners' in Europe, Middle East, and the Pacific having to increase their defence expenditure, upto, say, 2% of their GDP.  Almost simultaneously he declared that he wants to increase the American military expenditure by $ 5 billion, and the number of the US aircraft carriers from the present 10 to 12.

     What for?  The US is forcing Japan, or rather the present obedient(what a shame!) Japanese Government, to build a huge air and naval basis at Henoko, Okinawa.  They are similarly pressurizing the South Korean Government to build an enormous naval base at Cheju Island, off the main Peninsula.  They are selling a large amount of weapons to Taiwan.  Would it be possible, under the circumstances, to think of any other country than China, PRC, as their main target?  And naturally the now economically resilient China is trying to counter the move by building their own carrier task forces, leasing many ports around the Indian Ocean(presumably a part of their plan of encircling India also), and other measures.  Thus the military expenditure has been increasing all over the Asia-Pacific.  China's figure at the moment is about a quarter of that of the US, although there is a lot of talk on its transparency.

     Mr. Trump has complained in his speech that the US has spent $ 6,000 billion on the Middle East at the expense of maintaining her own infrastructure in good shape.  But why not spent it the other way round?  He has devoted a considerable time of his speech to mentioning and introducing various categories of the US patriots and their families.  They must deserve it.  But why did he take so much time when he should have mentioned and introduced his main policies?  Not to let the people to take the heavy doses once again?