The National Defense Academy of Japan, the institution which trains cadets to become future leaders of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF), was established in 1952, initially under the name of the National Safety Academy. Dr. Tomoo Maki served as its founding president on the recommendation of then-Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. Having had the experience of studying at Oxford University, Maki, a political science scholar, exhorted the cadets to live by the principles of freedom and discipline and called on them, “Be a gentleman!”
Recently an Air Self-Defense Forces major assigned to the Joint Staff was reported to have screamed at opposition Democratic Party member Hiroyuki Konishi, a member of the House of Councilors. The major, in his 30s, is said to have hurled abuse at Councilor Konishi when the two encountered on the street near Japan’s Diet building on the night of April 16. According to news reports, he shouted repeatedly, “You’re an enemy of the public!”
This was an inexcusable act of folly entirely contrary to the teachings of Dr. Maki. Councilor Konishi, for his part, indignantly responded by saying, “That made my skin crawl.” It was only natural that Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Joint Staff and the highest-ranking officer of the Self-Defense Forces, made an expeditious apology for the incident.
Yet, certain parties cannot let go.
In May 2017, Admiral Kawano himself was under a barrage of criticism from the opposition camp and some of the mass media solely because he said, “I feel grateful” to hear that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had proposed incorporating a clear-cut reference to the SDF into Article 9 of the Constitution. Admiral Kawano was subject to odious opposition and media denunciation, despite having taken the trouble to emphasize he was only giving his “personal view” in the capacity of “an individual member of the SDF.”
Regarding the recent case of the foolish young major’s inexcusable language toward a member of the Diet, one newspaper stretched it so far as to brand it an incident that could lead to a “crisis of democracy.” The paper then provocatively referred to what is known as the 5.15 incident, in which a group of rebellious military men, including young Navy officers, physically assassinated then-Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai on May 15, 1932.
Comments posted on Twitter by Democratic Party Councilor Konishi took the incident even further into the extreme, saying, “A coup d’état by the SDF will certainly take place sometime in the future, unless Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff Kawano both step down to take responsibility for this occurrence.”
Meanwhile, the Sankei Shimbun—the newspaper Councilor Konishi lashes out at for supposedly carrying “lots of articles unworthy of reading”—carried an article which shows again the outlandishness of politics. The article quotes part of Councilor Konishi’s remarks, accusing “the Prime Minister, who is totally ignorant of anything about the Constitution, in tandem with a group of fanatical bureaucrats, especially those from the Foreign Ministry” who support the Abe administration’s policies which Councilor Konishi doesn’t like.
To be exact, the remarks accusing the Prime Minister of ignorance of Japan’s most basic legal document were made by Councilor Konishi himself, in a session of the Budget Committee of the upper house in March 2015.
The words of Dr. Maki, “Be a gentleman!” are applicable to politicians as well, aren’t they?
(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)