Archive for March 18th, 2010

Secret History and a New Departure for Japan

18 March 2010

Contributed by Fintan Hoey

On 9 March Japan finally broke a fifty year silence on the existence of four Cold War-era secret agreements it concluded with the United States. These bilateral security understandings have long been mooted, first by investigative journalists, and then by the release of U.S. documents from this period. Therefore the publication of an official investigation into their existence is interesting not so much in terms of historical revelations but what is says about contemporary Japan, its international relations and its attitude toward the past.

The Cold War-era understandings, and the intense secrecy that surrounded them for so long, arose because of the tension between what the Japanese ruling elite felt was critical for their country’s security and the neutralist and pacifist sentiments of the Japanese public. In the aftermath of the Second World War Japan was occupied by the United States. It was disarmed, demilitarised and had a liberal-democratic and pacifist constitution imposed on it; reforms that were largely welcomed by a populace traumatised by war and domestic political repression. America quickly came to regret its earlier enthusiastic utopianism as Cold War tensions developed. Read More