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OBITUARY | Tadae Takubo, Journalist, Scholar, and Fighter for Constitutional Reform

Both a realist and visionary, Tadae Takubo showed Japan the path toward independence and self-respect with his theories on national security and rearmament.



Dr Tadae Takubo gave a lecture at the Hotel Okura Fukuoka on April 20, 2015. (©Sankei)

On January 9, renowned foreign affairs critic Tadae Takubo died of bacterial pneumonia at 90. As well as being a contributor to The Sankei Shimbun's Seiron magazine, Takubo also served as professor emeritus at Kyorin University. Heir to the school of militant liberalism, Takubo was a realist. In postwar debates, he was fiercely critical of the light armament and economic centrism propounded by the conservative mainstream. He also maintained an independent theory of national security.

Takubo served as chairman of the drafting committee for the People's Constitution, a constitutional reform proposal. It was published by The Sankei Shimbun. Throughout his lifetime, he continued to urge Japan's political leadership to revise the constitution to include a national military force.

I first met Takubo in September 1970 when I was a college student. We met at an Okinawa research camp held by the Shashiken (Society for the Study of Social Thought). In 1969, the Japanese and American governments had issued the Nixon-Sato communique. This communique promised the reversion of Okinawa to Japan three years later, in 1972. 

It was about two years before Okinawa's reversion that I arrived at Naha Port for the research camp. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the suntanned and fearless countenance of Takubo and his wife, Setsuko. At the time, he was the head of Jiji Press' Naha Bureau and served on Shashiken's board of directors.

Tadae Takubo (© Sankei, 2015)

Realism in Postwar Japan

Shashiken is a research group whose members follow in the footsteps of economist and sociologist Eijiro Kawai (1891–1944). A professor at the University of Tokyo, Kawai fought against totalitarianism on both the left and right. Four of his books, including A Critique of Fascism, were banned in 1938. Shashiken was founded after World War II by Kawai's students who had supported him when he was brought to trial during the war. The first generation of Kawai's students included sociologist Yoshihiko Seki and political scientist Masamichi Inoki. Takubo was part of the second generation.

He later became chief of Jiji Press' Washington bureau and head of its Foreign News Desk. Following these posts, Takubo went on to become a professor at Kyorin University. Furthermore, he became a leading scholar, earning his PhD with his seminal work Nixon the Strategist. His theories on rearmament were uniquely enlightening. 

One thing Takubo could not stand was the Yoshida Doctrine upheld by the conservative mainstream of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Originally, this doctrine was an economy-centered plan to weather the period of post-war reconstruction. It was adopted by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida (1946–1947, 1948–1954) during the Allied occupation of Japan.

Although PM Yoshida had intended to revise the constitution following independence, his successors refused to stray from the doctrine. Professor Yonosuke Nagai of the Tokyo Institute of Technology proposed that "the Yoshida Doctrine last forever." However, Takubo condemned Nagai's thesis as "a distortion of the doctrine." 

Tadae Takubo gestures while speaking at the Seiron Grand Prize commemorative lecture on March 13, 1997 (© Sankei)

A Vision for True Independence

Under the protective bulwark of the Japan-US Security Treaty, Japan lost its spirit of independence after the war. This created the illusion that Article 9 of the Constitution was protecting Japan. To redress these falsifications, Takubo and journalist Yoshiko Sakurai founded the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, with Sakurai as president and Takubo as vice president.

With China's growing military pressure, many Japanese are finally becoming aware of the dangers their nation faces. They now also recognize the need to defend Japan against these threats. 

Takubo showed Japan the path toward independence and self-respect. It is up to the citizens of Japan to continue down this path and realize his vision. 

Yoshiko Sakurai and Tadae Takubo, professor emeritus of Kyorin University, attended the convention of the "Citizens Association to Create a Beautiful Japanese Constitution" on March 14, 2018, in Tokyo. (©Sankei by Shunsuke Sakamaki)


(Read the obituary in Japanese.)

Author: Hiroshi Yuasa

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