On the Non-Defense of Japan: The Japan-US Treaty of Mutual Deception, Ignorance and Insecurity

By D. H. Garrett


“The war with Japan had been enacted in the game rooms at the War College by so many people and in so many different ways that nothing that happened during the war was a surprise absolutely nothing except the kamikaze tactics toward the end of the war. We had not visualized these.”


Students protesting against the Ampo treaty and then-PM Kishi

The “Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan” is known in shortened form in Japanese as the “Ampo Joyaku.”  It could more accurately be known as the “Ampo Noyaku” (農薬) one possible very rough translation of which would be the “U.S.-Japan Bulls**t” treaty.  It is a BS treaty not because it took the release of Class A War Criminals and massive amounts of CIA money over the years to get the U.S. the sufficiently anti-communist government it needed to allow U.S. bases willy-nilly wherever they wanted to plunk them down on Japanese soil (especially Okinawa)1); it is a BS treaty not because it was only passed by the Japanese Diet by tricking the opposition into taking everyone’s usual lunch-break and then having only the LDP members sneak back in to vote 2); it is a BS treaty not because Japan faces no threats of sufficient “threateningness” to warrant it: Russia (and the Soviet Union before it) although it does have some amphibious landing capability has rarely in its long military history utilized it, and China has all of one purchased, slightly-used formerly Ukrainian aircraft carrier; it is not a BS treaty because Article 1 of the treaty which states, “The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” is ritually ignored by the United States. No, it is a BS treaty because it doesn’t have the sense that god gave a goose to focus on the real existential threat that Japan is facing: climate change.

Prior to the Battle of Okinawa and the firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic butcherings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan did -it is true- have a history of being attacked.  That was though all the way back in 1274 and 1281 when Mongol fleets attempted to land invading hordes. These were famously eventually beaten back to the mainland by what came be known as the “Kamikaze” divine winds.  Now, as 2015 heads to the record books as the hottest year ever recorded, there is another invading force bearing down on Japan. Think of this enemy as a Super Kamikaze on steroids in reverse.3)4) In reverse, because this kamikaze is not here to protect Japan from outsiders.  It is here to destroy Japan as we know it.  This Super Kamikaze is climate change, and its multiple manifestations, all of which are appearing fast, and furiously, and all of which are building in momentum, even as the imagination needed to visualize and deal with them as a security threat, remains almost totally lacking, with a few exceptions.4)5) Anyway, the professional –have the ear of our fearless leaders- security establishment’s imagination is easily distracted by the pinpricks of asymmetrical lashing out (terrorism), and pop-culturesque boogey-men (North Korea).  As an exercise in readjusting the hallucinations of the U.S.-Japan military-industrial-political complex to reality as it really is, just imagine if the damage done by Typhoon Etau (100,000 ordered evacuated) had been done by one their favorite bogeymen, North Korea or China?  These sorts of events are only going to ramp up in frequency and severity.  Oh, and need I mention that Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka face a good probability they will need to be relocated to higher ground, either that or trillions of dollars in defensive infrastructure will need to be built.5)6)
So here is some of what needs to be kept in mind, if the Ampo Joyaku is to move out of the field of fertilizer and into the realms of something truly useful, and even life-saving7)8):

1.  Japan Needs to Ally Itself With the Best, Not an Ally That Excels at Destruction and Loses to Minor Insurgencies (After Creating Them)

First of all, the U.S. is its own worst enemy and so by Japan being allied with the U.S. it is also allied with its own worse enemy.  This is true of the extremely minor threat of terrorism, almost entirely brought into being as manifestations of blowback to various forms of U.S. violence and injustice, and more importantly in terms of the blowback of climate change, almost entirely brought into being by a Western economic model predicated on enriching the few by dangling illusions of happiness to the many all at the expense of the earth’s life support systems.  One would have thought Japan learned in WWII that allying itself with a country that was, shall we say, morally problematic, was not a good idea.  The majority of Japanese want to ally themselves with forces trying to bring into being a more just, more sustainable earth.  That its leadership has been seized by nationalistic paranoids only serves to remind one of a similar phenomena that happened in the U.S.

2. When “Growth” Kills It is Suicide/Murder
The current dominant economic system is delusional in the extreme.  When real costs are factored in (negative externalities including but not limited to climate change impacts, direct and indirect subsidies, and human and social costs) none of the world’s leading corporations are really profitable.9) Given that we are destroying our life support systems in favor of the illusion of abundance, we must radically correct our economic evaluations of “profit” to incorporate natural system sustainability and repair, and human happiness as opposed to human greed.  Japan’s natural cultural inclinations are to lead exactly in this direction.  One might think of this, in terms of sustainability, as a push toward a global “Edo Period.”
  1. Seizure and Internationalization of the Assets of Oil and Gas Companies That Committed Criminal Acts of Deception
Although it can be expected that U.S. courts will eventual find the major oil and gas companies culpable of practicing criminal deceit10) resulting in massive loss of life and property, given that the preponderance of damage is in the global south it would be preferable for these trials to be handled by an international tribunal so that assets are better assured of reaching the majority of the victims.  With it’s strong support for the resolution of issues through the use of international law (the exception between it’s disputed island territory issues) Japan would be a natural leader to support the set up of this type of international environmental tribunal
  1. Emergency Build-up of Food Emergency Infrastructure
With Japan importing more seafood than any other country in the world (80% of the world’s fish stocks fully exploited, overexploited, or recovering and the oceans acidifying quickly), and importing roughly 60% of its food, one needs to keep in mind that food security is one of the earliest victims of climate change. Local regional and global food supply networks can be expected to quickly shatter in a non-linear fashion after one or two significant climate events.11)  As such a global focus on new climate change-resistant food security infrastructure is of the essence, and Japan, given its great vulnerability should be in the forefront.  Vertical farming at every scale from the mega-scale ringing mega-cities, to the quickly installable “food security life raft” version for small remote communities must be put in place if societal break-down is to be avoided.
  1. Rational Staged Withdrawal from the Coasts
Although there may be some high value coastal cities where a cost-benefit analysis suggest that expensive coastal defenses may be a viable alternative (and certainly there may be creative ways to save some of Japan’s coastal plains where 96% of its population dwells) it is probably a better defense to put in place plans now to begin shifting 10’s of millions of people inland to avoid inundation.  Models that incorporate real-world fast and slow feedbacks predict multi-meter seal level rise by the end of the century, and perhaps even earlier, and moreover, paleo-climactic data from eras that had our current level of CO2 in the atmosphere reveal we have a 200-300 feet deficit between where sea levels are now and where we can expect them to reach.7)
  1. Degrowth and “Other-growth” in the so-called developed world.  Green growth still allowable in the developing world.
We can all live simpler, and by living simpler, actually be happier.  There are few countries with an innate economic-ecological-philosophy that are so naturally akin to this idea, as Japan.  Go forth Japan and lead the world towards happy Zen-garden sustainable sobriety!
  1. A Massive “New Hydrology” Effort to Protect, and Expand the Carbon Sequestration Ability of Terrestrial Land Masses
There is a set of super-high tech, deus ex machina technologies capable of sucking CO2 from the atmosphere and directly transforming it into a useful form.  They are called TREES.  Japan, do everything you can, for your own protection, to lead the world in a massive effort not just to protect existing forests, but to radically expand efforts at global reforestation.
  1. An agreement on shifting to a complete, global, climate change war footing including rationing, until such time as the crisis is past.
Once upon a time, Japan imagined itself, unhappily for its neighbors, at the center of an Asian Co-Prosperity sphere.  There are no centers any more. But the sphere, the global and local sphere of the commons is with us now.  Japan could be a radiant green beacon of loveliness and livability and that vision, would do more for its standing in the world then scrapping the peace constitution, and going to bed with a country that ignores, -when it so choses- international law, ever will.


Inashu wa
jisei o homete
(The doctors
praise his death poem
and depart.)

  1. “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA,“ Time Weiner, Anchor, May 2008
  2. Ibid
  3. “Why Tropical Storm Vongfong May Just Be The Beginning For Japan” Jeff Spross, Climate Progress, Oct 12, 2014 (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/12/3579143/vongfong-japan-storm-losses/
  4. “Catalogue of abrupt shifts in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate models” Sybren Drijfhout, et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Oct. 12, 2015
  5. DOD 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/CCARprint_wForeword_c.pdf
  6. Could a US-Japan “Green Alliance” Transform the Climate-Energy Equation? Andrew DeWitt, Japan Focus, May 2014 http://japanfocus.org/-Andrew-DeWit/4111
  7. “Sea-level rise due to polar ice-sheet mass loss during past warm periods” A. Dutton, A. E. Carlson, A. J. Long, G. A. Milne4, P. U. Clark, R. DeConto5, B. P. Horton, S. Rahmstorf, M. E. Raymo; Science 10 July 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6244
  8. “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2OC global warming is highly dangerous” Hansen, et al, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion, 15, 20059–20179, 2015
  9. “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Ecological and Economic Foundation” TEEB http://www.teebweb.org/our-publications/teeb-study-reports/ecological-and-economic-foundations/
  10. “The Climate Deception Dossiers” Union of Concerned Scientists Report http://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/fight-misinformation/climate-deception-dossiers-fossil-fuel-industry-memos#.VapofIvR-ug July 2015
  11. “Trade-Off: Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion: a study in global systemic collapse” David Korowicz, Metis Risk Consulting & Feasta, June 30, 2012

Author’s Note: D. H. Garrett is a Senior Associate at the Asia Institute and a former U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer.


DISCLAIMER:  The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Government.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s