British battle tanks, 1945 to the present by Simon Dunstan

By Simon Dunstan

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Sample text

Recognizing the lasting impact that the development of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery has had on security, Japanese intellectuals in the early cold war years opposed militarization on military grounds: building a strong military establishment or joining an alliance with a military big power cannot, they argued, protect Japan in the event of a nuclear attack. As we will see in Chapter 2, even during the Occupation remilitarization and a security treaty with the United States were opposed on the grounds that, against the background of the emerging cold war, such measures would heighten international tensions between the East and West and might even embroil Japan in a war of American making.

But this did not mean the death of the Group’s peace thought. 39 For instead of simply accepting the choice of joining either one of the eastern or western camps, it proposed maintaining autonomy and independence from both under a policy of unarmed neutrality. This approach to security was of dual significance: it allowed Japan to pursue an independent path between the two camps, and it offered a positive alternative to the militarist path that Japan had trodden in the years prior to defeat. In other words, it provided the pillars for a new identity for Japan in the nuclear era which was firmly rooted in the experience of the war and the anti-militarism of the Constitution.

In this we can see the longer-term impact of the peace thought articulated by the Group and widely supported at the mass level. DEMILITARIZATION: THE IMPACT OF PEACE THOUGHT 39 At the national level, the Danwakai’s proposal of ‘unarmed-neutrality’ did not become government policy. Instead, the National Police Reserve and later the Self-Defence Forces were established, the peace treaty with the West was signed and, under the US-Japan security treaty, bases were provided for the exclusive use of the United States.

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