THE "Summit Conference" at Geneva threw the limelight on European affairs so strongly that for a while Asia has seemed to be relegated to the background. Yet the Asian theater is currently fraught with grave dangers that threaten the tranquillity of the world; in a sense, the need for pacification in Asia is even more urgent than in Europe. It is Asia, rather than Europe, that requires an immediate treatment.

The very fact that the Geneva Conference took place shows that there had already been a measurable improvement in the European situation. This no doubt is due largely to the consolidation of the military position of the Western Powers; they have considerably rectified the imbalance of forces that for years handicapped them in their dealings with the Eastern Powers. One might say that it is the vindication of the policy of "peace through strength." At the same time, it cannot be denied that the approaching stalemate in atomic armaments is exercising a formidable psychological restraint on bellicose tendencies through the establishment of what we might call the balance of fear. For common sense teaches that a nuclear war is bound to be nothing less than cosmic suicide.

Now, in contrast with Europe, the situation in Asia remains highly fluid and fluctuating. Although the policy of "peace through strength" has been applied there with some success, as witnessed by the inauguration of SEATO, it has by no means stabilized the situation. A deep-rooted neutralist sentiment prevails in the vast region of uncommitted Asia. This preference for remaining unaligned in the cold war is partly ascribable to the anti-colonialism of the Asiatic nations which have won independence only recently after many years of struggle. The nationalistic aspirations of the Asian peoples can no longer be disregarded. They are determined not to be either dominated or exploited by alien Powers. The day of colonialism is over. However, some of them seem to be blissfully ignorant of the dangers of the new colonialism now threatening Asia in the guise of Communism. Apparently they do not understand that Communism can be as ruthless an aggressor as imperialism once was.

Communism thrives on hunger, of course, and hunger is the scourge of Asia. Indeed, the primary cause of Communism's success there is the appalling poverty of the Asian peoples. But there are many and various shafts in the quiver of Communist propagandists. And, as "many arrows loosed several ways come back to one mark," their psychological offensives produce a cumulative effect. Whether they seek to inflame anti-colonial passions or to exploit the low standard of living of the Asian masses, they always lay the blame on the Western Powers. While in the past their propaganda often took the form of dark threats, more recently it has assumed the tone of subtle persuasion. They preach "peaceful coexistence" while simultaneously painting a lurid picture of an atomic holocaust. Under the stress of emotional anti-colonialism, hunger and the fear of involvement in nuclear war the peoples of Asia are prone to accept the false concept of neutralism, forgetting that if it were not for the deterrent power of the free nations Asia as well as Europe might by now have been completely at the mercy of the Communists.

What, then, has been the psychological impact of the Geneva "Summit" talks on the state of mind of Asia? They were enthusiastically reported and highly appreciated throughout East Asia. In Japan, for example, they have been regarded as a great diplomatic success inaugurating a new era of good feeling among the Big Four. That may very well be true. But what was accomplished at Geneva was mainly the improvement of the diplomatic climate; this, though very important in itself, did not settle any of the great issues that divide the world even though it provided new opportunities for further consultations about them. It is most gratifying that ten years after Potsdam the responsible leaders of the major Powers have recovered the healthy habit of relaxing together around a green table. But an improvement in the mere intangibles of coexistence should not encourage boundless optimism; the acid test, as President Eisenhower has put it, is yet to come.

And who knows the Kremlin's true intentions? On certain fundamental issues such as German reunification and European security its position does not appear to be amenable to persuasion. Experts presume that this is because the Kremlin has not been deflected from its basic policy of eventually communizing the whole world. However, even if peaceful coexistence is only a tactical readjustment of Soviet revolutionary policy and even if the long Soviet design remains unaltered, it is wiser, we submit, to make the most of the peaceful overtures of the Russian leaders, provided always we do not slacken the tautness and vigilance that have helped us through the dark hours. The free world must, to be true to its own ideals, explore every avenue of conciliation, so long as there is even a glimmering hope of peaceful compromise on a safe and stable basis.

II

Peace is the supreme objective of Japan's foreign policy. We desire concord and conciliation with all the nations of the world. It was in this spirit that at the Asian-African Conference last April our delegation submitted the "Bandung Peace Declaration" which later was incorporated in the "Declaration on the Promotion of World Peace and Coöperation" issued by that historic Conference.

However, peace cannot be secured by gestures. And since a genuine peace must be based on justice and liberty, we have fully aligned ourselves with the free nations, in particular the United States. In consequence of this Japan now occupies a foremost position in the vanguard of freedom in East Asia. Our policy of maintaining close coöperation with the United States is supported by an overwhelming majority of our people. Like other nations, we have a quota of people considering themselves intellectuals who make a profession of anti-Americanism; but, though very vocal, they are a small minority. Often unconsciously they are stooges for the Communists. Fortunately the broad masses of our people are more realistic, more intelligent than the "intellectuals," hence more aware of the perils of Communism and more firmly opposed to it.

Opposition to Communism as such, however, does not prejudice our present policy of normalizing relations with the Soviet Union. We believe it is high time that the technical state of war still prevailing between Japan and the Soviet Union was liquidated and diplomatic relations restored. It is anomalous, to say the least, that ten full years after the termination of hostilities the two countries should still remain legally at war. Resumption of normal relations will go far, we believe, in reducing the tension and stabilizing the situation in East Asia as a whole and will benefit all nations, the United States included. When coexistence is so much in vogue, nations should at the least maintain diplomatic intercourse.

Japan and Soviet Russia do not have diplomatic relations because the latter refused to adhere to the San Francisco Peace Treaty, hailed by some 50 countries as a fine specimen of reconciliation. This made necessary the present negotiations with the Soviet Union. The questions involved include, among others, the territorial disputes regarding Shikotan and Habomais, two islands universally recognized as part of Hokkaido, and the final disposition of the Kuriles and South Sakhalin in the North Pacific. Although we renounced claim to the Kuriles and South Sakhalin in Article 2, Paragraph 1, of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the Treaty does not transfer title to the islands to another state. Moreover, the secret agreement concluded at Yalta is not binding upon Japan. In short, the ultimate disposition of the Kuriles and South Sakhalin has not been determined and is, legally speaking, a matter for further consideration by the Powers concerned.

A matter of utmost urgency is a prompt release by the Soviet Government of a large number of Japanese nationals still detained in Siberia and elsewhere. Simple humanity demands that these unfortunate prisoners should now be permitted to return home after ten years of painful separation from their loved ones. We are, therefore, appealing to the Russians to expedite their repatriation. Of late, thanks to the efforts of Messrs. Malik and Matsumoto in London, there has been some progress in this matter and we hope and trust that the Soviet leaders will be humane enough to respond to our plea and settle this question without further delay.

The question of how to regulate our relations with Communist China requires delicate considerations since we maintain diplomatic relations with the government of Nationalist China in Formosa. In view of our geographical propinquity, the critical situation prevailing over the Formosan straits gives us grave concern. We earnestly hope that the recent détente in the cold war will lead to an early pacification of the region, without which there can be no tranquillity in East Asia. We believe that under no circumstances should resort to violence be countenanced.

It is common knowledge that there exists in Japan a widespread impatience with the government for not having put forth enough endeavors to remove the barriers of trade with continental China. The reasons for this pressure are clear. At one time China took one-fourth of our total exports and was the major source of supply of coal, iron ore, salt, beans, bean oil and other materials essential to our industry. Those who now clamor for the expansion of trade with China, however, tend to overlook the enormous changes which the last decade has brought there. In any case, an embargo is now enforced by the free nations against Communist countries, and an even tighter ban exists on trade with Communist China than with Soviet Russia and the East European countries. This gives rise to the feeling among our people that, because of our geographical position, we are unduly discriminated against. Inasmuch as we have faithfully observed the rules of the embargo, and are determined to continue doing so in the future, we hope that the present unequal distribution of sacrifices among free nations will be removed and that the pattern of embargo will be applied uniformly to all Communist countries.

It cannot be denied that the massive strength of continental China exercises a peculiar psychological spell on the adjoining countries of Asia, and Japan is not an exception. This psychological pull is gathering force as the Peking Government develops its propaganda for peace in the form of coexistence. With the double impact of the parallel Russian offensives, the effect is not to be despised. Too many forget that "things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour." To counteract this impact, it becomes imperative to consolidate anew our relations with the United States and other free nations. For the paramount aim of the Communist effort is to detach Japan from the United States, then to neutralize her and eventually to win her over to the Communist camp. Thus our situation is closely analogous to that of West Germany. The fate of Europe will be decided by the disposition of the German question; the destiny of Asia will depend on the orientation of Japan.

III

Three years have now passed since the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the accompanying Security Pact between Japan and the United States. During this period the world situation has undergone a significant change, and with it has come a change in more than one sense in the outlook of our people toward their foreign relations, including those with the United States.

Certainly, we shall not deflect from the policy of preserving and promoting the closest possible coöperation with the United States; that is the fundamental national policy to which we are firmly committed. We believe that this coöperation has been highly instrumental in consolidating the position of the free nations in East Asia and this fact in itself enhances the common interests of our two countries. But we feel that the time has now come to review our relations and readjust them to present needs so as to make them even more enduring. If this is not done we foresee the possibility that the present Japanese Government based on moderate conservative forces will be subjected increasingly to attacks from the extremists of both right and left on the score of being unduly subservient to the United States. This might have undesirable repercussions on our future coöperation.

A speedy readjustment is called for in rectifying certain measures initiated under the Occupation which, though largely benevolent in character, nevertheless were foreign in many respects to our basic tradition. Our democratic institutions will not thrive unless they become accepted and adopted by the people at large as truly their own. A case in point is the present arrangement for our national defense. Under the Security Pact, we invited the American forces to stay in and around Japan, and they have undertaken to assume increasing responsibility for our defense. In view of the fact that international tension was then increasing and that Japan had been completely disarmed, our public accepted the idea that it was necessary and desirable to entrust the task of defending our soil to the American forces. It must be remembered, however, that even then the Socialists--and in general the segment of our public called "intellectuals"--were opposed. Naturally their opposition has grown in vigor with the apparent easing of the international situation. In consequence, a psychological gap seems about to develop between Japan and the United States. In the American view, the international situation is still grave, and especially in East Asia. Consequently, the United States urges Japan to fulfill her obligations to increase rapidly her own defense forces. On the other hand, our people incline to take a more hopeful view of the global situation. Not believing in the imminence of war, they do not feel the same urgency that the American military command does to increase Japanese defense efforts sharply. Quite possibly their assessment of the international situation is unduly influenced by sanguine hopes or is affected by the peace offensives of the Communist Powers. All the same, this is a factor which we must take into consideration in shaping our defense policy. The fact that recently the Socialists in the Diet obstructed the passage of the bill for a National Defense Council is an indication of the strength of opposition to rearmament.

As is well known, the present Japanese Constitution, prepared during the Occupation, forbids our rearmament and this seems to give a legal sanction to the popular movement against rearmament. It is unfortunate that the inherent right of a sovereign nation to provide for her own national defense is disputed as a violation of the Constitution and that the issue of rearmament is replaced by and confused with that of upholding the basic law of the state. A vocal section of our public suspects that outside pressure is being brought to bear upon the government to revise the anti-rearmament clause of the Constitution and criticizes the Security Pact as likely to involve Japan in a war with the Communist Powers. In fact, the leftists loudly denounce the Security Pact as an instrument of "Imperialist America" designed to make selfish use of Japan in an emergency. Thus, the security arrangement as it now operates is open to exploitation as a cause of friction in American-Japanese relations; and in fact the Communist Powers do exploit the situation to their advantage, since it is their avowed policy to wean Japan away from her allies. Consequently, the question of increasing our defense efforts is inseparably linked with the anti-American movement.

As we gradually augment our defense forces (euphemistically called self-defense forces) we desire gradually to replace the American garrisons with our own troops, thus reducing the burden on the American taxpayer and also removing causes of friction due to the stationing of American forces in our country. This is the policy we are now carrying out in earnest.

But as we are still beset with severe economic difficulties there is obviously a limit to our defense efforts, since these must be regulated by our financial resources. Otherwise, the standard of living of our masses would seriously deteriorate. This would invite social unrest and, in turn, encourage leftist machinations. It seems highly advisable for our two countries to work out a new defense arrangement accompanied by a joint plan that will cover the needs for at least a few years to come. If such a plan is adopted, then the thorny question of our defense contributions which yearly involves painful negotiations would be largely obviated, since under a mutually agreed plan the amount of our annual contribution would be decided automatically. In elaborating this joint program, it is of the utmost importance, we believe, that we should exchange views freely and frankly on the respective defense requirements of our two countries so as to make our combined efforts as effective as possible in ensuring the stability of East Asia.

After all, common security forms the very foundation of American-Japanese relations. Once the question of how best to establish our common security is settled to our mutual satisfaction, other questions such as how to ensure Japan's economic viability and facilitate the expansion of her trade in the markets of Southeast Asia may also be discussed and disposed of. In this connection, it should be stated that we are anxious to coöperate with other free nations in elevating the living standards of the teeming millions of Southeast Asia. We hope that we shall be able to do so by rendering technical assistance to the nations of the region and expanding our trade with them. By integrating our policy for Southeast Asia with that of the United States, we shall be able, we believe, to expedite the attainment of our economic independence.

IV

Since we are quite aware that the key to economic independence lies in self-help, we have been pursuing a policy of austerity by which we are gradually improving Japan's balance of international payments. While in 1954 our imports were $1,960,000,000 against exports of $1,530,000,000, representing an unfavorable balance of some $430,000,000, the first half of 1955 ended with $878,000,000 in exports against $905,000,000 in imports, a trade deficit of $28,000,000 as compared with $426,000,000 for the same period the preceding year. This reveals, however, that to balance our international payments we are still dependent, although to a lesser degree, upon the procurement orders from the American forces in Japan and the spending of American military personnel.

Even so, we have been making serious efforts to settle the reparations question which constitutes a serious obstacle in normalizing our relations with the countries of Southeast Asia. Our good neighbor policy toward them has recently culminated in an agreement with Burma based on our undertaking to pay by way of reparations a sum of $200,000,000 spread over ten years, and $50,000,000 to finance Burma-Japan economic coöperation. More recently, Thailand has come to terms with us, in the matter of discharging our wartime indebtedness, with Japan offering to pay $15,000,000 in cash and to make available $26,000,000 for economic coöperation. As for reparations to the Philippines, some progress is now reported as a result of preliminary negotiations in Tokyo, and we earnestly hope for a speedy conclusion of the question. Next in line stand negotiations with Indonesia. Thus we are determined to settle our wartime liabilities once and for all. In this connection, it is extremely unfortunate that, in spite of genuine and continuing efforts at conciliation on our part, relations with the Republic of Korea still remain unstable.

If one realizes the fact that our territory has been reduced to the size of Montana and that the four narrow islands which constitute it fall far short of providing the sinews of life for our population of 88,000,000, it must be admitted that the problem confronting us is indeed most grim. It presents a challenge not only for Japan alone but also for the rest of the world. Every evidence of good will shown by friendly nations in helping us deal with this problem of overpopulation will naturally elicit warm appreciation.

Although it does not have great bearing upon the population pressure, permission for the former inhabitants of the Bonin Islands to return to their homes will be greatly appreciated as a sign of good will. Our people hope, as a matter of national sentiment, that full sovereignty over the Bonins as well as the Ryukus, which are now under American administration, will be restored to us as soon as circumstances permit. Meanwhile, the distress caused by the current situation could be alleviated by allowing the Bonin islanders who were moved to the mainland of Japan during or after the war to go back to their home islands, where they have the basis for a scanty livelihood. Furthermore, since the only former Bonin inhabitants who have been allowed to return so far are those with Caucasian blood, the others feel that they are being subjected to racial discrimination.

Another question close to Japanese hearts concerns the fate of the war criminals still held in prison, in number some 200. They received prison sentences from the United States military courts soon after the war. Whatever their wrongs, they have surely paid for them by having served ten years of their terms. Even on casual journeys through Japan, one often comes across moving scenes as relatives and friends of the prisoners gather to make personal appeals for their early release. Indeed, it is hard for those who fully support the democratic cause to find reasons why their compatriots should still be incarcerated. We are appreciative of the gradual release of some of these men by the United States, and the decision to release them all would further strengthen the bond of friendship with the United States.

Ten years have elapsed since the Instrument of Surrender was signed on board the U.S. Battleship Missouri. It has been a decade packed with fateful events. In April 1952, Japan regained her independence by virtue of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. In signing that noble instrument she has firmly aligned herself with the community of free nations. We are proud that we have consistently upheld the cause of justice and liberty as a loyal ally of the free nations. Even so, despite a record which is above reproach and oblivious of overwhelming support for our admission, Japan is still barred from the United Nations. This painful fact is bitterly frustrating. We are not unaware, of course, of the complexity of the world situation which accounts for the delay. We trust that dictates of reason reinforced by the massive weight of world opinion will soon bring it to an end and that we shall obtain a seat in the organization and thus add another solid link in the chain of nations devoted to peace.

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  • TOSHIKAZU KASE, Permanent Observer of Japan to the United Nations; recently head of the Japanese delegation at the Bandung Conference; author of "Journey to the Missouri"
  • More By Toshikazu Kase