Ｉt has been difficult to focus on political events in the land of the Rising Sun over the past week. In comparison to the spectacle taking place on the other side of the Pacific, events in the home provinces are pretty mild.
Still, it is hard to refrain from commenting on the Tamogami Affair. That persons like Air Self Defense Forces Chief of Staff Tamogami Toshio should seek to serve in the Self Defense Forces is not to be unexpected. Energetic, devoted patriotism borders on nationalism, and it is not unusual that a young man who desires to protect his fellow citizens should not be able to discern the boundary line. At some point, someone should have been able to see that Tamogami's beliefs regarding the pre-1945 state, which he did not hide, made him unfit for a career in the SDF. Despite years in the service of the government, employed, educated and trained at the public’s expense, Tamogami did not understand or refused to understand the significance of his oath of obedience to the civilian government. It is incomprehensible (no, wait, it is comprehensible, it was just ridiculous) that he was able to rise through the ranks to the highest position in his service while being in a state of rebellion against the principles undergirding the SDF's and the current government's existence. That he was given command of a military base, in charge of the instruction of hundreds of airmen and was, in the end able to cajole or pressure 78 of his fellow officers into participating in an act of spiritual rebellion against the state is not grounds for dismissal, it is grounds for arrest on the charge of conspiracy to commit insurrection.
(I will have to look up what the applicable law would be.)
Serious minds should be debating whether or not the Ministry of Defense ought to be demoted to an agency again. Over just the last two years, the defense establishment and the individuals working for it have compiled a staggering record of contempt for simple right and wrong. Vice Minister Moriya's dismissal, arrest and conviction on bribery and bid-rigging charges; the dereliction of duty that allowed the MSDF Atago, the most advanced ship in the fleet, to run over a fishing boat earlier this year; the decades of unpunished corruption at the Defense Facilities Agency that forced the government to disband the agency in 2007; the sadistic ritual beating death of a special forces serviceman who had the audacity to believe he had the right to resign from the force; and now the Tamogami Affair indicate that the MOD is the Ministry of Outright Disaster...and that we need disaster relief.
And that is something the Self Defense Forces are purportedly really good at.
Later - a collection of the best writing on the Tamogami Affair
"The Tamogami affair "
"Japan's revisionist problem"
"Norimitsu Onishi's Obsession with Japanese Revisionism Continues"
"The Latest, Troubling Twist in the Tamogami Incident"
"Update on the Tamogami Affair; Plus, a Few Thought on the Evolving Relationship between Politics and the Bureaucracy"
"Gen. Tamogami Toshio, Motoya Toshio, and Abe Shinzo"
Make no mistake, something sickening and awful has happened. The Self Defense Forces have a founding myth--that they are sui generis, a purely defensive force, the shield unto the United States's spear in the Japan-U.S. alliance. Unless someone figures out how it was possible for a reckless buffoon like Tamogami to remain in good standing with his fellow officers and the civilian defense bureaucracy, everyone will be forced to recalibrate his or her thinking about the fundamental nature of the SDF, the principles underpinning the current Japan-U.S. military alliance and the future of security relations in Northeast Asia.
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