World View: Japan Finally Adopts ‘Collective Defense’ Laws, Departing from Pacifism

Shinzo Abe
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Violence appears to be escalating in Turkey with PKK
  • Japan finally adopts ‘collective defense’ laws, departing from pacifism
  • Japan’s Shinzo Abe follows the wishes of his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke
  • The question of Obama as a Muslim arises in politics again

Violence appears to be escalating in Turkey with PKK

Residents carry coffins of people who were killed during last week's clashes in Cizre (Reuters)
Residents carry coffins of people who were killed during last week’s clashes in Cizre (Reuters)

The violence between Turkey’s security forces and terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been escalating sharply, ever since a ceasefire agreement broke down in July, and Turkey’s government declared war on the PKK. ( “9-Sep-15 World View — Turkey slips into chaos as violence spreads across the country”)

The number of policemen and soldiers killed since July has now risen to more than 120. At the same time, Turkish warplanes have been pounding PKK positions for weeks, in both southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.

The Kurdish-majority town of Cizre, in southeast Turkey, has seen some of the worst violence. Buildings are riddled with bulletholes, and armored police vehicles dot the town. The government says that the operation there was to flush out the PKK from its hotbed. The violence was triggered by a suicide bombing, which the Kurds blame on the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), accusing the government of colluding with ISIS.

At the same time, the government of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blaming the US and the West for supporting the “moderate” Kurds, and claiming that “Turkey’s Western allies, particularly the U.S., U.K. and Germany, have become partners [indirectly] with a terror group that commits the most vulgar crimes in Turkey and supplies weapons to them.”

Across Turkey, Turkish nationalism and anger towards Kurds is growing. Kurds complain that relations between Kurds and Turks are becoming increasingly tense. On Tuesday of last week, tens of thousands of people from across Turkey attended a rally in Ankara to condemn terrorism by the PKK.

All of Turkey’s main political leaders have appealed for national unity and for calm, but concerns are growing that the violence could spiral into full-scale war. BBC and VOA and Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Japan finally adopts ‘collective defense’ laws, departing from pacifism

Following boisterous confrontations in Japan’s Upper House (the Diet) that sometimes spiraled into fisticuffs, Japan finally enacted two security laws on Saturday morning that mark a significant departure the pacifism that was embedded in Japan’s constitution following World War II. The new laws are extremely unpopular and highly contentious.

The self-defense clause of the constitution permits military action only when Japan itself is being attacked. The new laws reinterpret the self-defense clause to include “collective self-defense,” which would permit military action under some circumstances when an ally (such as the United States) is attacked. I discussed the meaning of “collective self-defense” in detail last year in “5-May-14 World View — Japan debates ‘collective self-defense’ to protect America and Japan”. Japan Times

Japan’s Shinzo Abe follows the wishes of his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke

The new laws permitting collective self-defense were adopted through the tireless effort of Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who made the laws a major objective of his prime ministry from the beginning.

A major part of Abe’s motivation is that he was following in the path of his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, who served as prime minister of Japan from 1957-60.

In 1960, Kishi signed a US-Japan security treaty intended to put the relationship between the two nations on an equal basis and to restore independent diplomacy for Japan. To implement this policy he initiated an official study of the constitution’s “self-defense” clause, and he encouraged Japanese self-reliance in national defense.

Kishi used his conservative parliamentary majority to ratify the treaty, but the process was extremely contentious, and Kishi resigned in the aftermath. Some analysts are now suggesting that the passage of the new security laws may result in Abe’s resignation. Encyclopedia Britannica: Kishi Nobusuke

The question of Obama as a Muslim arises in politics again

The detractors of President Obama sometimes claim that he is a Muslim, or even that he is not a citizen. There is no doubt that he was born in Hawaii, so he is a citizen.

Obama is also undoubtedly a Christian in American eyes, but the question has some ambiguities in Muslim eyes, according to a May 12, 2008, NY Times article that I quoted when I wrote about Is President Barack Obama a Muslim? in 2010.

According to the NY Times article, Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law, because his father had been Muslim. His father renounced Islam, and Obama himself converted to Christianity, so he is a Christian in American eyes. But under Muslim law, according to the NY Times, he is still a Muslim, and the conversion was an apostasy.

The NY Times concludes in 2008: “But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.”

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Iraq, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Cizre, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kurds, Japan, collective self-defense, Kishi Nobusuke
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