Free Markets, Free People

If you’re a pacifist, it helps if everyone else is too

That’s the hard lesson Japan’s Prime Minister is learning:

When Islamic State militants posted a video over the weekend showing the grisly killing of a Japanese journalist, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted with outrage, promising “to make the terrorists pay the price.”

Such vows of retribution may be common in the West when leaders face extremist violence, but they have been unheard of in confrontation-averse Japan — until now. The prime minister’s call for revenge after the killings of the journalist, Kenji Goto, and another hostage, Haruna Yukawa, raised eyebrows even in the military establishment, adding to a growing awareness here that the crisis could be a watershed for this long pacifist country.

“Japan has not seen this Western-style expression in its diplomacy before,” Akihisa Nagashima, a former vice minister of defense, wrote on Twitter. “Does he intend to give Japan the capability to back up his words?”

Japan has been a pacifist country by declaration, pretty much forced into that position by the United States after WWII.  But Japan, if its history is any indication, isn’t a pacifist country by tradition.

And, of course, it is easier to be a “pacifist” nation when you’re essentially protected by GreatPower.  Japan has enjoyed that luxury for almost 70 years.

That’s enough time to begin to believe you can be a pacifist nation and survive.  But, as the title indicates, that’s a dream reality won’t support unless certain unlikely conditions are sought.  It’s a bit like demanding that guns be banned with the belief that if law abiding citizens are prohibited from carrying weapons, criminals too will refrain from using them.   Or unilateral nuclear disarmament.  If you destroy your nukes, well, the other guy has an huge bit of leverage hasn’t he?

No country today can afford to be “pacifist” in this world.  Those organizations and countries like ISIS would love that.  It would be like a homeowner putting a sign in their window that says “this is a gun free house”.  Why not send an engraved invitation to those who look for situations like that to criminally exploit?

Like most ideals, while nice to contemplate and certainly wonderful to wish for, reality simply doesn’t look kindly on unrealistic ideals nor does it deal gently with those who try to practice them foolishly.

Japan is emerging from a long sleep in which they were able to indulge themselves in their dream.  But with China rattling sabers and looking at least regionally expansionist, North Korea in the hands of a mad man and the US showing little or no leadership nor inclination to back Japan like it has in the past — dreamtime is over.

It’s time for them to embrace the suck and do what is necessary to survive and thrive in it.


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17 Responses to If you’re a pacifist, it helps if everyone else is too

  • Tokyo, Nov 18: More than a third of married couples in Japan have stopped having sex, many of them because they are too tired or just can`t be bothered, a government-backed medical researcher said on Wednesday.

    About 37 percent of couples surveyed this year by Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, said they had not had sex for at least a month, compared with 32 percent in 2004.

    The most common reason, given by a quarter of the males surveyed, was being too tired after work, while 19 percent of women said sex was too much of a hassle, he told Reuters.

    What next ?

  • Heh
    You know what this means.
    Now we’ll get to have a deadliest warrior episode –
    Idiot ISIS zealot vs Japanese Ninja.

  • agreed, and well set.

  • This could be WAY over-simplistic, and it would lend itself to a long-term study, but…

    I have this notion that…kind of like the plot to Serenity…you can over-pacify people. Some degree of fighting spirit could easily be tied to lots of other traits, like male and female libido.

    I think we went WAY too far with the Japanese, although I do understand the drive.

    • Alternatively, being on the losing side filters out all your warriors by virtue of killing them off. If societies naturally tended towards a certain balance in pre-modern-tech times than the brutal wars of the 20th century could easily throw entire cultures off kilter in a big way.

  • I’m okay with Japan being pacifists. They chopped off way too many heads last time last time they were not.

    • This will happen when you heavily arm peasants and tell them it’s okay to unleash their inner samurai.

  • You’re a bit harsh on Japan I think. We didn’t even bomb them into submission so much as we shamed them into submission by making their God-Emperor humble himself.

    And there’s still lots of shame attached to the idea of fighting offensively for them even today.

    I’m not sure exactly why it is but they’re (unfortunately) almost a neutered culture that’s chosen decline. Maybe finding their fighting spirit again will revitalize them.

    • At first, they were a wreck and needed us around to not be consumed by Russia. Then they started transition from needing our military to enjoying the luxury of not having to fund one as well as having access to the US consumer market. Considering their trading practices they’ve always been nervous about us slamming the door in their face. They would have us if we pulled the same on them.

      Right now they probably feel pretty abandoned by Obama, grinning and bearing it for 4 years is one thing, 8 years is a different story.

      I also believe there’s a legacy of false memories about who the Japanese are and their capabilities which is left over from WWII propaganda designed to build them up into a larger than life adversary. To have us take them seriously, fund the war maching without question and to settle for nothing less complete surrender.

    • “And there’s still lots of shame attached to the idea of fighting offensively for them even today.”

      Too bad there is not more shame attached to the butchery and barbarity they did, which they refuse to acknowledge. They should be eternally grateful we did not treat them as they treated their enemies.

  • Humans are predatory omnivores, not sheep or goats or any other herbivores. Some humans don’t recognize any limits on their predation, being either inadequately socialized as individuals or members of cultures with strong predatory features. If you want to be a pacifist, move to a universe where everyone and everything is also pacifistic. Any regular, useful and productive interaction with other humans has to take into account the existence of the feral and the imperial, else it is certain to fail, painfully and expensively.

    • What’s irritating is trying to remind them it ain’t all roses (and never will be) and being told you’re a cold war antique from the last century.
      We’re out of touch/date you see and the tofu supply can never run out now because the time keepers put a 20 in front of the year.

  • In this world the lion may lay down with the lamb, but only because it is a more comfortable eating position.