The Shock Doctrine of Japanese Type – Neoliberalism and the Shadow of America


The Shock Doctrine of Japanese Type – Neoliberalism and the Shadow of America

Chigaya Kinoshita

Approximately two and a half months have passed since 3/11. Since then we have been discussing politics and society of the present Japan in view of a series of the unprecedented crises: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. Meanwhile two demonstrations took place on 4/10 and 5/7, mobilizing more than 15,000 participants, a corresponding upswing of the public opinion against nuclear power forced the most dangerous Hamaoka Nuclear plant into suspension of operation, and the mass literacy concerning nuclear issues has been steadily in improvement. At present the axis of political oppositionality is centered on the nuke issue, which however is defined by the power relations inherent in entire politics and society. In fact Japan’s ruing class is seeking at once to reinforce neoliberal reforms and subordination to the US, as their long-cherished objectives as they have been, by employing the current crises as springboard. The task of the present article is to investigate the strategies of Japan’s ruling class confronting the conjuncture after 3/11, by way of referring back a political process that was initiated in the change of government in 2009.

1. The Shadow of Neoliberalism

The change of Japan’s administration in 2009 had implications similar to those entailed in the birth of the Obama administration in 2008. In the beginning, the Obama administration was expected to apply breaks to the radical neoliberal reforms that had been accelerating from the second Clinton administration to the Bush administration. Therein in the beginning at least aimed at were the policies that more or less considered social fairness, such as the introduction of national health insurance for all. Nonetheless it is common knowledge now that, as it was affected by the rollback from the conservative sector, the administration was gradually submitted to financial capital and took an overall turn to the right, falling short of supporters’ impassioned expectations. The same is true with the situation in Japan: due to the full-hearted neoliberal reforms under the rule of the Liberal Democratic Party during the 2000s, social gap and impoverishment (especially in the country) worsened; the so-called Lehman Shock totally destroyed the social stability, anger against the reforms erupted particularly amongst the regional constituencies; thus came the administration change of 2009. At least in the beginning, the Democratic Party led by the Prime Minister Hatoyama set forth the policies more or less in consideration of social fairness, such as guaranteed income, free education, children’s allowance, foreigners’ right to vote, etc.; and in the sector of national security, it sought to transfer the Futenma US Military Base in Okinawa out of the prefecture or to abroad. But due to the counter-attack of the conservative sector, financial circle and the US, these policies suffered a setback one after another, and disappointed voters came to give up on the Democratic Party. Thus in the early 2010, the Hatoyama administration collapsed, which was followed by the advent of the present Kan administration.

The primary task of the Kan administration was from the beginning to reorient the Democratic Party to side more with neoliberalism and reinforce the submission to the US. Right after the inauguration, the Kan administration set forth increase of sales tax and TPP (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement) for establishing a free trade regime in the region. The betrayal deprived the Democratic Party of its major supporting voters, then the party was defeated in subsequent elections. Meanwhile the Liberal Democratic Party with its neo-conservative and neoliberal policies made a big return under two major party system; thus it was expected at the coming nation wide local elections in Aril 2011 that the Democratic Party would suffer heavy losses, the Kan administration would end and a D/LDP coalition government would be born, advancing full-hearted neoliberal reforms. It was in such climate that 3/11 was encountered.

Nobody would deny the fact that the nuclear accident was a man-made disaster. But so too were the earthquake and tsunami. Due to the neoliberal structural reforms having been instigated during the past decade or so, the northeastern area (the Tohoku district) had already been socio-economically suffering: i.e., closures and integrations of hospitals, deterioration of residential services due to the merger of municipalities (cities, towns and villages), cut down of public service personnel, etc. In consequence, job opportunities were lost in the surrounding countryside, many youth had to move out to the cities, and the power to sustain communities was declining. When the disaster struck the area, these circumstances delayed human and material supports for the victims, resulting in making the efforts of the Self-Defense Forces and the police conspicuous. And yet the Democratic government of Naoto Kan steered its policy toward cutting off the stricken areas and the socially weak, seizing the opportunity of the critical juncture.

It was the financial establishment that pioneered this policy orientation. In April 6th, Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyu Kai) made an emergency appeal consisting of the following terms: (1) a large scale fiscal investment for the recovery must be instigated following the line of financial equilibrium; (2) by founding the Tohoku Area Reconstruction House (Tohoku Hukko In), we must plan an independence (read as ‘cut-off’) of the district based upon market mechanism; (3) increase of sales tax and decrease of corporate tax; (4) promotion of TPP; (5) maintenance of nuclear power. The Reconstruction Vision Team of the Democratic Party followed these terms almost completely, and further moved on to corporatization or intensivization of agriculture and fishery, the production sectors with which the stricken areas are known for having been prospered. In terms of fishery, almost all fishing boats were destroyed, and on top of that, the radioactive leaks have been unequivocally damaging marine products. Now the Democratic government is about to adopt a demonic policy that would deliver a fatal blow to the area by introducing market mechanism. Also the introduction of TPP would definitely annihilate the agriculture of Fukushima having been already suffering from radiation. The post 3/11 Japan has created unemployed population exceeding the time of Lehman Shock. The Democratic government has devised no measure for this and let it alone. (It is among those unemployed workers that the workers at the power plants have been recruited, namely, unpredictable number of radiation victims has been created.) In today’s Japan, while concerns of the public opinion are focused on nuclear issues, fulfillments of welfare, social security, medical care and unemployment policy are awaited more than ever. Nonetheless the Democratic Party, the LDP and the financial establishment are seeking to plant new seeds for capitalist accumulation taking this crisis as a good opportunity. It would not be pointless to call this the shock doctrine of Japanese type.

2. The Shadow of America

A powerful oppositional movement is waged by the people of Okinawa Prefecture against the transference of Futenma base to Henoko area. In consideration of this, two senators of the Upper House, Levin and McCain, proposed a plan to merge Futenma Base into Kadena Base. The merger plan or the so-called improvement plan is mainly motivated by financial consideration and would not solve any problem, especially of the danger in takeoff and landing of airplanes at Futenma Base, or rather would make it worse (i.e., by having airplanes, helicopters and the notorious V22 Osprays take off and land on the same runway). But in any case we expect that a political compromise toward this direction will be schemed from now on.

The rescue mission of the US military for the Tohoku disaster, that was called the Operation Tomodachi (Friendship), has helped an improvement of the image of US Military in realignment. In retrospection, the discourse: “we hope for a good fight of the US Forces” was heard even from part of the lefts. In counter to this, the media centered in Okinawa clearly saw the fact that the Operation Tomodachi really served for solidifying the status of US bases in Okinawa, and heralded in criticizing this scheme.

Introducing approximately 680 billion yen and 16 thousand forces, it is undeniable that the operation played a certain role in lifesaving, etc. But the problem lies in the prioritization order of the mission. Which did it prioritize — national security or rescue of the people? The fact is that the total feature of the Operation is yet to be revealed. So what we can do for now is only a guess. Yet we can point out one solid example, that is, the reconstruction of Sendai Airport that had been totally destroyed by tsunami. The US Air Force concentrated all its might on reconstruction of the airport: having Hunvees descend on the ground, leveling runways, forcing difficult landing of transport planes, building an emergency control tower, quickly paving the runways, and transporting supplies of 200 thousand tons.

Concerning this, some of us question as to why it was necessary to restore Sendai Airport so hastefully. The fact was that even the airport was restored, transportation routes to the stricken areas were still out of use. Did the US Forces introduce its potential into the most urgent tasks such as survivors’ search and dropping supplies for the isolated victims? There are two possible reasons why the US hurried up so much to restore the airport: firstly avoiding to have a slightest void in security, and secondly demonstration to East-Asian nations. The primary purpose was to show off US power in an emergency situation. In the realignment of the UF forces in recent years, dispatch for disaster is given a tremendous importance. The real objective of this project is less for rescuing lives than securing raison d’etre of US military presence. Regardless of what the individual soldiers who participated in the rescue of the stricken areas had in their mind, the military operation was in another level instigated according to US national interests. Priority was not lifesaving but national security. Vis-à-vis the nuclear accident, defense of US bases had priority, and active engagement in the accident was motivated by data collection for experimental purposes. The introduction of a crewless reconnaissance plane for observing the reactors and the deployment of Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) that had been theretofore undercover – all of these efforts will be made use of, as a crucial training in expectation of coming nuclear warfare.

In Japan the Operation Tomodachi is received as a pure goodwill of the allied nation. While the Operation was being acted upon, however, the US was attacking Libya, backing the massacre in the state of Bahrain, slaughtering the terrorist mastermind Geronimo with his family by stepping in another sovereign country with its barefoot, and screaming with joy. Perhaps only Japan and Saudi Arabia are the idiot countries who are grateful for such deeds of the US. This is part of the shock doctrine of Japanese type. With the economic and political rise of East Asian states (beginning from China), Japan’s pro-American foreign policy had been facing a major turning point. And then the Operation Tomodachi was instigated, that is, in order to draw Japan back under the US umbrella and make it aware of its role as an advance base of the US in East Asia. It was a shock treatment to reorient Japan, taking advantage of the crisis.

Now two and a half months have passed since 3/11. From here we must advance upon a thorough observation of the political and social entirety. This is why what Caffentzis/Federici said in their “Must We Rebuild Their Anthill?” vividly comes to life.

Nuclear power, therefore, can only be destroyed when social movements come into existence that treat it politically, not only as a destructive form of energy but as a strategy of accumulation and terror– a means of devaluation of our lives– and place it on a continuum with the struggle against the use of the “financial crisis,“ or against the cuts to healthcare and education.

It is this problematic consciousness that is telling of the task we must full-heartedly confront and grapple with.

PDF (English)





このような経緯から誕生した菅政権の使命は、民主党をネオリベラリズムの側に引き戻すこと、対米従属を強化することだった。菅首相は就任直後に消費税引き上げを打ち出し、自由貿易体制を確立するためのTPP(Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement)の批准を打ち出した。このような「裏切り」により有権者の支持を失った民主党は選挙で次々と敗北し、他方新保守主義的、ネオリベラリズム的政策を前面に掲げた自民党は「二大政党制」の下で復活し、2011年4月に予定されていた統一地方選挙で民主党が敗北した場合、菅直人政権の命脈は尽き、そして民主党、自民党による「大連立」政権が誕生し、本格的なネオリベラリズム改革を推進するであろうと予想されていた。この時点で、われわれは3・11に遭遇したのである。



およそ68億円の予算と、1万6千人の将兵を投入したトモダチ作戦が、人命救助などで一定の役割を果たしたことは否定できない。だが問題はこの作戦の優先順位である。果たして「国家の安全」と、「民衆の救済」のどちらを優先したのだろうか。実際のところ、現状ではトモダチ作戦の全貌がどのようなものだったかはまだわからない。だから憶測しかできない。それでもひとつだけ事例をあげるならば、津波で壊滅した仙台空港の復興だろう。米軍は空軍中心に仙台空港の復興に全力を傾注し、高機多用途装輪車輌(Hunvee)を降下させ臨時滑走路を構築、輸送機を強行着陸させ緊急時管制を確立し、あっというまに滑走路を舗装、20万トンの物資の輸送を行ったという。だがこれに対しては、「そもそも仙台空港の復旧をそんなに急ぐ必要があったのか?」という疑問がわく。仙台空港を復旧しても、そもそも被災地まで輸送するルートが崩壊していたのであり、緊急時の優先順位上必要な措置(生存者の捜索、物資の空中投下)などに、果たして米軍は潜在的な力を投入したのだろうか?米軍が仙台空港の復旧を急いだ理由は、おそらく二つある。第一は、安全保障上の空白をつくらないこと。第二は、東アジア諸国に対するデモンストレーションである。つまり東アジアにおける有事の際の米軍の実力を誇示することが第一目的だったのだ。災害派遣は近年の米軍再編のなかでもきわめて重視されている。それは、別に人命救助のためではなく、米軍の軍事プレゼンスの正当性の確保がその目的である。このトモダチ作戦に参加した将兵が、どのような想いで被災地の支援に従事したかはとは別に、この「軍事作戦」は、あくまで米国の国益の範疇でおこなわれたのである。最優先されたのは人命ではなく国家安全保障である。そして原発事故については、米軍基地の防衛がすべてに優先され、事故への対応への積極的な関与は、要するに実験データーを入手するためだった。さらには原子力災害への無人偵察機の活用、これまで極秘の存在だった米海兵隊化学生物兵器事態対応部隊(Chemical Biological Incident Response Force:CBIRF)の投入。これら一切は、原子力災害のみならず「核戦争」を想定した貴重な訓練として、「今後」に生かされて行くことになるだろう。米国のトモダチ作戦は、今の日本では無垢な「善意」として受け止められている。だが、米軍は、片手でトモダチ作戦をおこないながら、もう片手でリビアを攻撃しつつバーレーンの虐殺を後押しし、他の主権国家に土足で踏み込みテロリストの首謀者「ジェロニモ」を家族もろとも虐殺し、歓喜の声をあげていたのだ。こんなアメリカに今感謝を捧げている阿呆な国は、世界で日本とサウジアラビアしかないだろう。これも「日本型ショック・ドクトリン」である。中国をはじめとした東アジア諸国の経済的、政治的台頭のなかで、これまでの日本のアメリカ一辺倒の外交政策は転機にさしかかっていた。トモダチ作戦は、日本をふたたびアメリカの傘の下に引き戻し、東アジアにおけるアメリカの前方基地としての自覚を再確認させるための、危機に乗じたショック療法だったのである。

PDF (日本語)

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