Political Movements in Japan

In every country, the supreme task of politics is to guarantee the security and peace of that country. Japan is no exception. In its case, however, a fundamental difficulty is that the government and opposition parties are not able easily to find any point of agreement on how the guarantee is to be achieved. This has brought about a political situation peculiar to Japan.

The present Liberal Democratic government follows a national policy based on Japan's international position as a member of the free world, centered around the United States. This policy has remained unchanged ever since the signature of the Japanese Peace Treaty at San Francisco in 1951. In contrast, the Socialist Party, which is the No. 1 opposition party, advocates neutralism. It holds that Japan should disengage from the free world. If the Socialist Party's policy is realized, Japan will without doubt lean toward the Communist camp.

Such differences between the government and the opposition are the factors causing political disputes over the China problem, the talks between Japan and the Republic of Korea, the Viet Nam issue and the problem of revising the Constitution. The disturbances in 1960 over the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty were, on the surface, the most radical development of this situation. Such confrontations can be expected to reach a climax in 1970 when the decision must be made on whether to extend the present Security Treaty.

Foreigners may get the impression of such confusion in the politics of Japan that they conclude the country faces a crisis. I would like to say at once that such a view is mistaken. This is not to say that Japan has attained the ideal in politics. But, relatively speaking, I do believe that Japan has reached a certain political maturity. Of all the countries occupied by the Allied forces after the last war, or which became independent, Japan probably is the only one that has managed to achieve democracy, "rationed out" in our case by the United States. None the less, the course of Japanese politics causes dissatisfaction both within the country and elsewhere. In my opinion, there are three reasons for this.

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