Japanese Security and American Policy

The provisions of the Japanese Constitution barring the resort to war as an instrument of Japanese policy, and effectively committing Japan not to maintain armed forces on a major scale, has long raised the question how Japan's security is to be assured in a world still replete with sources of international conflict. As late as 1948 it was still General MacArthur's view, if the writer of these lines understood him correctly, that it would not be essential for the United States to maintain armed forces on the Japanese archipelago permanently or for a protracted time either for its own security or for that of Japan; in his view, the most suitable status for Japan would be one of permanent demilitarization and neutralization under such general protection as might be afforded by the United Nations and by the friendly interest of the United States. He appeared to believe, as did this writer, that if such a status could be arranged with the concurrence of the Soviet Government, the likelihood of a Soviet attack on Japan would be minimal; and it was not easy to see from what other quarter Japan could be seriously threatened. This concept assumed, of course, an eventual agreement between the Soviet Union, the United States and other interested parties, on the terms of a Japanese peace settlement.

In the following year-1949-however, the decision was taken in Washington, for reasons still not fully clear, to proceed at once to the negotiation of a separate United States-Japanese treaty, one which would envisage virtually a bilateral alliance between the two countries and the retention for an indefinite period of American bases and defense facilities on the Japanese islands. Preparatory talks on such a treaty were well advanced when the Korean War broke out. To what extent these discussions, and the American disposition they reflected, were a factor in the Communist decision to launch the attack in Korea is a question which still awaits exhaustive historical scrutiny. Certainly, they were not the only factor; but it would be surprising if they had had no effect at all on this decision.

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