4・28記念式典 「主権」の大切さ考える日に

[The Yomiuri Shimbun] April 2, 2013
A pertinent occasion to ponder the preciousness of 'sovereignty'
4・28記念式典 「主権」の大切さ考える日に(4月1日付・読売社説)


After Japan's defeat in the Showa War--a series of wars dating back to the 1931 Manchurian Incident that was followed by the Sino-Japanese War and World War II--the nation rejoined the international community as an independent state when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force on April 28, 1952.

On that day, this country was freed from the occupation by the Allied Powers that lasted about six years and eight months.

In a Cabinet meeting in March, the government decided to sponsor the first-ever ceremony on the 28th of this month to commemorate Japan's regaining of its sovereignty and return to the international community.

The ceremony, to be held at Kensei-kinenkan (Memorial Hall of Constitutional Politics) near the Diet Building, will be attended by representatives from a wide spectrum of fields, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Emperor and Empress also will be in attendance.

Looking back on history, we should regard this event as an opportunity to once again consider the significance of the existence of a sovereign state and living in peace.

Censorship wide-reaching

As stipulated in Article 1 of the peace treaty, the state of belligerency between Japan and the Allied Powers under international law was brought to an end that day.

April 28, 1952, can therefore be regarded as the "day the war ended" in a true sense.

Regarding Japan's postwar democratization processes, there is a strong tendency to consider that such democratic principles as "people's sovereignty" and "freedom of speech" became firmly established when the existing Constitution came into force on May 3, 1947.

During the occupation by the U.S.-led General Headquarters of the Allied Powers, however, directives issued by GHQ were absolute imperatives.

Voices critical of the fact that the Constitution was written under the GHQ's initiative were rigorously muzzled.

Soon after the Constitution took effect, three members of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, including Finance Minister Tanzan Ishibashi, were among public servants purged for failing to comply with GHQ directives.

Censorship by GHQ was wide-reaching, from criticism against occupation policies to references to international situations. When a U.S. soldier was involved in a criminal incident, Japanese media had no option but to use such euphemisms as "large man" instead of identifying the soldier by name.

Photos taken just after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were shown to the public only after the Occupation ended.

The Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead sponsored by the government was first held on May 2, 1952, shortly after Japan regained independence.

Memories of the days when this country had been stripped of its sovereignty seem to be gradually fading from the minds of the Japanese people. It is crucial under the circumstances to ask again why this country lost its sovereignty and independence, in the context of Japan's history before the war.

Disapproval in Okinawa

In Okinawa Prefecture, the upcoming commemoration ceremony has been met with a chorus of disapproval.

This is primarily because the prefecture, along with the Amami Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture and the Ogasawara Islands, which are administered by Tokyo, was separated from the rest of Japan on April 28 61 years ago, and placed under the administration of U.S. forces. Tracts of land were seized and U.S. bases were built one after another.

While the movement to have Okinawa returned to the homeland grew rapidly in the 1960s, Okinawa residents even started calling April 28 "the day of humiliation."

The Amami Islands were handed back to Japan in 1953 and the Ogasawara Islands in 1968. But it was 1972--20 years after Japan recovered its independence--when the Okinawa Islands were returned to Japan.

A national assembly to commemorate the recovery of sovereignty was held by the Liberal Democratic Party and others at LDP headquarters on April 28 last year. Former Deputy Okinawa Gov. Noriaki Kakazu was invited as a guest. In his address, Kakazu referred to the turbulent history of Okinawa, which went from a bloody battlefield to an occupied territory, and called for Japan to become "a nation that shares both joy and sorrow together," and for April 28 to be "a day when the people make that resolution afresh."


In its campaign pledges for the recent House of Representatives election, the LDP created a stir by spelling out its intention to hold a ceremony to celebrate "the day of the return of national sovereignty."
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima has been lukewarm about the planned ceremony. "It would be difficult to attend if it was meant to be a celebration," he said.

No such ceremony can be held without understanding the mixed feelings of Okinawa residents.

Security situation severe

Abe has called for the ceremony "to renew our resolution to carve out a future for our country, including Amami, Ogasawara and Okinawa." His remarks clearly took into consideration the sentiments of residents of Okinawa.

The security situation surrounding Japan is severe. Our sovereignty has been jeopardized almost daily.

In waters near the Senkaku Islands of Okinawa Prefecture, China, which belatedly started claiming sovereignty over the islands, has repeatedly sent patrol vessels to the area, intruding into Japan's territorial waters.

Meanwhile, the Takeshima islets of Shimane Prefecture remain illegally occupied by South Korea. Under the San Francisco Treaty, the islets were excluded from the areas that Japan had to relinquish. But just before the treaty came into force, South Korea unilaterally established the Syngman Rhee Line, a boundary established by the then South Korean president, and declared it possessed the islets.

Russia has tightened its effective control over the northern territories off Hokkaido, even though 56 years have passed since Tokyo and Moscow restored diplomatic relations in 1956.

There is also the issue of sovereignty infringements by North Korea, with dozens of Japanese, including Megumi Yokota, being abducted by Pyongyang agents.

These pending issues remain unresolved probably because Japanese people as a whole are scarcely aware of the nation's sovereign rights.

Japan is now one of the world's wealthiest countries. As a responsible, sovereign state, it must continue its efforts to maintain peace, prosperity and freedom.

The Japanese people should deepen their understanding of sovereignty issues and see them in a new light. We hope the ceremony to commemorate the return of this nation's sovereignty will become an opportunity to do just this.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 1, 2013)
(2013年4月1日01時17分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-04-03 08:10 | 英字新聞

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