Kyoto University of Foreign Studies President Discusses U.S. - Japan Relations

President matsuda public lecture 3

In 1986 Dr. Takeshi Matsuda worked as UTSA’s first Fulbright Professor, teaching a course in the history of American East-Asian Relations; 29 years later, the now President of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies returned to promote further collaboration between UTSA and KUFS. Last Thursday, he presented his research in a lecture entitled, “Drift or Mastery Revisited: A Path to Human Co-Existence” to a crowded room. In it, he discussed current Japanese politics, the recently approved legislation remilitarizing the state, and the U.S.-Japanese alliance.

Matsuda began by addressing the new security bill, which reinterprets Article 9 of the national constitution, allowing Japanese forces to fight abroad under the pretest of “the right of collective defense.” He continued, “What better choices could there be in the spectrum of Japan’s diplomatic strategies other than the long-standing U.S –dependent military alliance?” This remilitarization of Japan’s national security posture has created anxiety among Japanese citizens, who view the country’s long-standing pacifism as a cultural tradition. Moving on to the big picture, he stated, “I do believe that there is no more ennobling human aspiration than to choose a path towards human coexistence based on non-militarism.”

Japan’s pacifist constitution, drafted in 1947 by occupying forces following WWII, has created long-lasting peace between Japan, the U.S. and its neighbors. Matsuda described the varying views of Japanese politics from the proto-conservatives who believe in upholding an emperor system revolving around national security, to the issues of foreign policy surrounding a Japanese diplomacy that continues to rely on American power and authority. The issue, he believes, is that this has become an issue of inequality for Japan, as the country continues to provide the U.S. with land and facilities on the shores of their small island country.

Matsuda believes Japan’s main issues are of self-contradiction and hypocrisy in having supported a U.S.-based security treaty arrangement that would let another nation go to war on their behalf, and a dislike of American military bases in their country, particularly in Okinawa.

Matsuda concluded by calling on Japanese leaders and policy makers to, “Think about the possibility of bringing this half-independent country to a state of full independence… [Focus on] how to implement the strong desire of Japanese people who wish to have U.S. – Japan relations genuine friendship and equality [rather than military-minded].”

“…We must be bold enough to explain how a positive outcome would follow if America changed from a military-minded to a nonmilitary-minded, from a high security to a post-security relationship. We must show people on both sides of the Pacific that there is an alternative course which will eventually enable them to do what they really want to do; to relax and enjoy a long happy life.”