The Reconstruction Project and the US


Photo: PACIFIC OCEAN (April 4, 2011) Japan Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa receives honors from Sailors upon his arrival aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). -via flickr

On February 10th 2012, in the eleventh month after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th 2011, the Reconstruction Agency of Japan would be inaugurated and the reconstruction project underway. Based upon principles of “Basic Laws on the Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction” and following the special measures such as designation of reconstruction zone, deregulation, simplification of procedures, exemption of taxation, and reconstruction subsidies, the project are to be realized, but shrewdly incorporated therein is US strategy toward Japan.

The process through which the Japanese Government and Japan’s financial circles conceptualized and determined the disaster reconstruction project can be traced in a series of documents beginning from “Emergency Proposals for the Earthquake Reconstruction” by the Federation of Economic Organizations (March 31st) to “the Basic Line of the Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake” (July 28th and revised on August 11th). In these, (a) they distinguished reconstruction from recovery, defining the former as “regeneration and creation of Japanese economy”; (b) as growth expected domains they attach importance to “environment/energy,” “medical/social security services,” “IT/infrastructure construction” and “agriculture, forestry and fisheries”; (c) they maintain the policies that financial circles have demanded well before the disaster such as “a unified reform of taxation and social security,” “strategy for a new growth” and “agreement with/participation in TPP”; (d) and in order to realize them as quickly as possible, they apply bold measures such as “establishment of a headquarter holding a potent right to command and order,” “considering a possibility of introducing a reform to integrate prefectures into federated states, which would give more autonomy to each region,” “designation of special reconstruction zone” and “plans to reconstruct industries in a large area.”

However, the process of conceptualizing the reconstruction was in fact also a process in which an American conservative think-tank CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) intervened. Having well-known ‘Japan handlers’ such as Michael Green, Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, the large think-tank held a firm recognition that the US shares a big interest in Japan’s post-earthquake reconstruction, then inaugurated a taskforce for the reconstruction plans on April 11th. They had close consultations with Japan’s financial circles, politicians, bureaucrats, specialists and local governments, thereby inserting American demands into the plans.

There are four specific goals that the US sought to introduce.

(1) It is necessary to resuscitate the neoliberal reforms that have been suspended by the administration change in 2009, by taking advantage of the state of emergency, the Great Earthquake.

Among the policies for the present reconstruction plans, “unified reform of taxation and social security” came into existence in 2008 with the intention to deal with the new social problems such as net café refugees and precarious workers in line with the neoliberal reform. In 2009, influenced by Obama’s “Green New Deal,” a “strategy for a new growth” was presented with intention to introduce a “business model for problems solving” that is supposed to tackle the issues in Japanese society such as environment, energy, aging and regional activation. “Agreement with/participation in TPP” was pushed forth in 2010, following the meeting (with the participation of the US) for negotiating the expansion of TPP. So it is clear that the series of policy forming in the pillar of the reconstruction project was already in place as early as between 2008 and 2010 as a combination of two tendencies: resuming neoliberal policies and following US policies.

In the lower house election of 2009 the nation largely supported the Democratic Party holding secession from the structural reform of the Koizumi Administration and independence from America/inclination toward Asia. After the change of administration, while two Democratic administrations of Hatoyama and Kan lived only short, in indeterminacy, having been caught in-between the pressure from the US/Japan’s financial circles and the public opinion, in consequence, however, execution of the policies in favor of financial circles came to be in halt.

The present reconstruction project has an element of “the shock doctrine of Japanese style” as is widely claimed, in the sense that it seeks to realize the group of policies, taking advantage of the Great Earthquake as the state of emergency. In its stress of reducing corporate tax, deregulation of labor conditions, participation in TPP and designation of special zone, CSIS stands on the same position as Japan’s financial circles.

(2) Although Japan’s financial circles and the US share the same interest in terms of resumption of neoliberal policies, they compete each other in the aspect of reconstruction undertakings, as reflected in the reconstruction plans.

In the beginning, the proposal for reconstruction by the financial circles sought to give the role of “a headquarter holding a powerful right to command and order” to the central organizations such as Reconstruction Agency and Reconstruction Headquarters. In contrast, CSIS proposed “a new public method” that would allow grass roots decision- making by dispersing initiatives to regions and having private enterprises, NPOs and local residents participate in the project. Thereafter the plan on Japan side gradually inclined to the orientation of CSIS. CSIS also proposed to establish a Japan/US cooperation system on civilian level, including a collaborative research project about the role of corporations, cooperation in employing IT for building infrastructure and organizing a Japan/US forum among energy industries.

For the corporations that consider the reconstruction project as a chance for profit-making, whether they can acquire information about township building in the northeastern area and whether they can participate in the decision-making are a big issue directly connected to the amount of contracts they can get. For instance, GE Japan established a close connection with Miyagi Prefecture very early on, and already in 2009 pushed forth a business strategy centered on energy supply and medical care in case of an earthquake on the level of over magnitude 7. For these corporations the present reconstruction project is already a business chance they are ready to take on, but for many American multi-national corporations, the northeastern area is merely a foreign countryside and not immediately accessible in terms of information acquisition for decision-making. The proposal of CSIS internalizes its aim to give American multi-national corporations an easier access to the reconstruction project, by removing the decision-making initiative from a central headquarter directly connected to the financial circles and dispersing it to each region, guaranteeing participations of various corporations and NGOs, and establishing Japan/US collaboration in various domains.

(3) Although both the US and the financial circles have not clarified their intentions on nuclear power any more than it having to be safe supplier of energy, their positions are firm in maintaining while reducing reliance on it. This line derives more from the strategy for US state security than from the profit making of American and Japanese enterprises.

After the end of cold war, the US shifted its hypothetical enemy from Soviet Union to the so-called ‘rogue states’ such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea; therefrom its military strategy has been based upon deterrence of nuclear development and prevention of nuclear spread (i.e., to the terrorists). Upon such premises, the administration of Bush Jr. waged the war against Iraq for ‘democratization’ and Americanization of the Middle East. But before the goal was fulfilled, the rule of Iraq had gotten bogged down. Due to the failure, two policy shifts took place in 2006: (I) the necessity to reduce oil reliance in energy supply resulted in a need for developing alternative energy, which led to Obama’s “Green New Deal” policy; (II) a strategic shift took place from the unilateral expansion of ‘democracy’ in the neo-conservative manner to the multinational corporation for reinforcing international surveillance for preventing nuclear dispersion, which came to be stressed in

Obama’s “world without nuclear weapons” talk in Prague in 2009.

The former is included in the present reconstruction project through the new growth strategy of Japan’s financial circles, while the latter is the one which makes the US insists that Japan should maintain nuclear power in order to cooperate with the US line. That is to say, Japan must contribute to the reinforcement of international nuclear surveillance system by maintaining nuclear power, polishing a safer technology and becoming a sophisticated force for nuclear management on the international level, even after the experiences of atomic bombs and nuclear accident. If Japan nullifies nuclear power, its technology will be lost and it will become a country that embodies nuclear abolishment instead of reinforcing international surveillance for preventing nuclear dispersion. This will be a big trouble for the US.

(4) For the US with its strong interest in Japan both economically and militarily, Hatoyama administration’s line of independence from America/inclination toward Asia was an unforgivable betrayal. In a symposium co-hosted by CSIS and Nikkei News Paper that took place in November 2011, what was stressed repeatedly from the US side was: “since the Japan/US Alliance is beyond party lines, it must not be shaken by any administration change.”

Based upon the same problematic consciousness, a collaborative research project between two think-tanks: the Tokyo Foundation and CNAS (Center for a New American security), entitled Renewing Old Promises and Exploring New Frontiers* proposes that it is imperative as a future objective to establish a framework to nurture a community consciousness among the specialists of Japan’s security working in universities, think-tanks, news media, political parties and corporations. The same view is consistent in the reports of CSIS. Stress here is in the necessity to reinforce the Japan/US ties on civilian level, or more concretely, that militaries, ministries and financial circles of both countries establish stronger ties with NGOs, universities, specialist groups and volunteer activists of both countries in order to collaborate in disaster rescue missions, humanitarian aids, medical practices, etc.


In his The Future of Power (Public Affairs, 2011), Joseph Nye maintains that not only hard power (coercive power) but also soft power (power to make people follow voluntarily) need to be underlined and that soft power can become effective, even of military if it cooperates in disaster rescues, humanitarian aids and training and education for these missions. The proposal of CSIS expands this idea, not limited to military, to ministries, financial circles, universities and NGOs, seeking to reinforce the soft power in the domains such as disaster rescues, humanitarian aids and medical practices and make a Japan/US joint community among NGOs and specialists. In retrospection, the ‘nuclear village’ that has been promoting nuclear power in Japan is nothing but a strong community based upon Japan/US joint interests, involving the international organization IAEA, financial circles, politicians, bureaucrats, universities, specialists, mass media, labor unions, regional societies and even gangster organizations. What is happening now is that the civilian base of Japan/US alliance is further reinforced on the occasion of the man-made disaster caused by the very same interest group.

I have described the four points of the US calculation incorporated in the reconstruction project. Ostensibly they have a plausible feature with the claimed objectives such as “tackling the issues of environment, aging, regional activation by involving various subjects of grass roots base in regions,” “reinforcing safety of nuclear power,” “supporting disaster rescues, humanitarian aids and medical practices,” but their essence is the neoliberal drive for profit-making by taking advantage of the disaster, following the US military strategy and deepening of Japan’s subordination to the US. Meanwhile the opposition to the reconstruction project is an opposition over the decision-making right of life and living space in the northeastern area. This is at stake in the year 2012.


PDF (English)

Ken Hirano:
Born in 1962, he is an economics researcher and the manager of Fukushima Daiichi Wiki (in Japanese).




平野 健

















ジョセフ・ナイは、その著書『スマート・パワー』の中で、アメリカの覇権を存続させるためにハード・パワー(強制力)だけでなくソフト・パワー(自発的に追従させる力)をもっと重視すべきだとしつつ、軍隊であっても災害支援・人道的活動やその訓練・教育への協力することでソフト・パワーを発揮することができると述べている。CSISの今回の提言は、これを軍に限らず、官庁・財界・大学・ NGOなどにまで拡張して、災害支援・人道的活動・医療活動などの領域でソフト・パワーを発揮して、NGOや専門家の日米共同コミュニティを作ろうとするものである。思い返せば、日本で原発を推進してきた「原子力村」もまた、IAEAといった国際機関から始まって、財界・政治家・官僚・大学・専門家・マスコミ・労組・地域社会・暴力団までを巻き込んだ強度の日米利益共同体に他ならない。そいつが引き起こした人災をきっかけに日米同盟の市民的基盤をさらに増強しようとしているのである。


PDF (日本語)



2 thoughts on “The Reconstruction Project and the US”

  1. A year and a half later and TEPCO continues to allow the Pacific Ocean (and the atmosphere) to be radioactively polluted like never before in history!

    Now the Government of Japan is a accomplice in this crime against humanity by enabling TEPCO to continue polluting, instead of replacing them with an international Group of experts.

    In reality the Japanese and TEPCO are now “NUKING” the Planet in slow motion while MSM remains silent except for the occasional “blip” on the news radar…

    Adding insult to Global injury, TEPCO is even now wanting to restart #5 and #6 reactors at Fukushima despite #1 through #4 still spewing radioactivity, despite the fact that about 90% of the Japanese people want nothing to do with Nuclear Reactors!

    It now appears that the Government of Japan is much more like the Government of N. Korea than anyone outside Japan would have thought possible before 3/11/11.

    Above comment was posted here: http://wp.me/pDwKM-2G7

  2. The Japanese Gov’t. is in bed with the Nuclear industry…

    ATTENTION: Japanese People, NOW almost all your Leaders are in Nuclear Denial* and unless they keep your reactors shut down you may have ONE OR MORE Trillion Dollar Eco-DisasterFukushima’s because Fukushima proved that Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365!

    A year and a half exactly after Fukushima’s Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster Japan is now the poster “boy” for Control by the Nuclear Industry and their Utility Gangs:

    The Nuclear Mafia Derails Democracy In Japan

    This is one of the most well written articles on this Debacle…
    BTW It contains a great number of links to back up all points…

    The BOTTOM LINE is that the Japanese people have N☢ say in how their Gov’t deals with Nuclear issues! In effect they now live in a Nuclear Police State!

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