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평화군축센터    한반도 평화를 위해 비핵군축운동을 합니다

  • English
  • 2003.11.02
  • 663
Hiromichi UMEBAYASHI

President, Peace Depot Japan, and International Coordinator, Pacific Campaign for Disarmament & Security (PCDS)

It is both a privilege and an honor for me to attend this important conference, where I can learn firsthand from your deliberations and share my humble ideas with all of you. In this respect, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to organizers from the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) and the Seoul Broadcasting Station (SBS).

Unilateral Bilateralism

About two weeks ago, Mr. KOIZUMI Junichiro, Prime Minister of Japan, decided to pay $1.5 billion for reconstruction of Iraq. Three days later, Mr. ROH Moohyun, President of the Republic of Korea (ROK), announced his decision to send thousands of Korean troops to Iraq. No doubt, they were showing their willingness to support the United States, or more precisely, U.S. President George W. Bush, just prior to their scheduled meetings with him. These so-called “high-level” political decisions made by leaders of two U.S. allies in Northeast Asia share a common feature in that they were made in opposition to public opinion in their countries. The reported justification for their decisions is based on security considerations, that is, to ensure full involvement by the U.S. in the event of a DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) attack, the two nations will support the U.S. in Iraq.

Surprisingly, such logic seems to have gained silent support by most of the media in both countries. But to me, the logic is absolutely upside-down. The only case in which I can envision a DPRK attack upon Japan is if the United States attacks the DPRK. So, the U.S. is not a caretaker, but rather a troublemaker, in this case. I believe the same thing is true here in South Korea. I have been impressed by the comments of many Korean friends visiting Japan who say that Korean people, either from the South or from the North, know what a Korean War means to ordinary people and they are eager to avoid war, despite whatever feelings of animosity they may have for each other. Although rational scrutiny proves the contrary, the public and many politicians still tend to depend upon U.S. military might for “security.” Thus, I note that Bush’s politics of the fear of terror, the "War on Terror," has successfully transformed the world into a precarious powder keg.

It is true that overwhelming U.S. dominance in security issues in Northeast Asia is not a new phenomenon, as it now has a history of more than half-a-century. In the two post-World War II bilateral security treaties in the region, the "Japan-U.S. Security Treaty" and the "ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty," U.S. military forces have been given a privileged status in both countries. Nonetheless, George W. Bush’s unilateralism is unprecedented in its aggressive nature. It even neglects official bilateral agreements without prior consultation.

An example of such neglect experienced by Japan is related to the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty). The epoch-making "Joint Security Declaration" signed by Prime Minister Hashimoto and President Clinton in 1996 included several non-military security elements. One of the important agreements was a pledge to promote the CTBT, which served as an indication to Japanese people that the U.S.-Japan security relationship would sometimes contribute to global disarmament. Based upon such agreement, a U.S.-Japan Special Committee was established in 2000, which was mandated to “bring about the early entry into force of the CTBT” as one of its “immediate priorities.” To announce the establishment of the Committee, high-level officials from both governments held an optimistic and uplifting press conference, saying “today is a historic occasion!” However, one year later, the new Bush Administration negated the CTBT without any consultation process with Japan.

Another example is the account of how the entire process of U.S.-DPRK dialogue in the 1990s was destroyed. Let us recall the joint statement between the DPRK and the United States just 15 months before the now famous 'axis of evil' speech by the U.S. President. In that joint communiqu
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