What's in a Word?

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What’s a piece of paper worth? Not much.

What’s in a word? A lot.

If you consider that the currency we all use is actually “fiat” money and that it carries no actual value, then it might just stand to reason that the Constitution of The United States of America is worth about as much as the paper it’s written on.

Never mind that it could fetch a handsome price at a Sotheby’s auction for it’s historical value. Hell, throw in a nice frame and I’ll bet you could fetch a pretty penny for that one!

The Bush administration, with the acquiescence of the U.S. congress, has trampled the Constitution under foot. I suppose there’s no point in my going through the various articles that the Bush administration has destroyed. You folks living in America all probably know about that. Or you are unwilling to admit the ugly truth that America is no longer “The Land of The Free.”

Ask Jose Padilla… If you can. Ask any U.S. soldier in Iraq what they really think, and you’ll never see or hear it on American news. Yeah, America is a land of free speech — just stay in the designated zones.

Japan is a Socialist country in many ways. I’ve lived in America and I live here, in Japan. Sorry, America: Japan is a much freer country than the United States. Most Americans just don’t want to admit it.

It seems a lot of Americans can’t stand it when it is pointed out to them that America is not #1 in many areas. One time, my older brother told me, “America has the best health care in the world! Bar none!”

“Not according to the World Health Organization.” I answered.

“Bar none! Mike! Bar none!” He raised his voice and got angry in, sadly, typical American fashion.

“If America has the best health care in the world, then why do Japanese on the average live 7 years longer than Americans? Why is America ranked 17th among industrialized nations in longevity?” I asked.

Of course he got even more angry and answered: “Who cares what the World Health Organization says?”

Pretty logical argument, that one.

I also told him that, “The United States is becoming like the old Soviet Union: A first rate military power, with a second rate economy.”

He just called me, “Anti-American!”

Touch! Once again! How can I argue with such an analytical mind?

There is an old saying here in Japan: “When America sneezes, Japan catches a cold.” It used to apply to economics, but in these last few years, it’s beginning to apply to politics too. The current Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, wants to throw out parts of the Japanese Constitution and allow for Japan to send its Self Defense Forces overseas into areas that are “hot” wars.

You have to understand the mind-set of the Japanese to really get a good understanding of just how big of a change this would be. The Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) are called that name for a reason. They are not to fight anywhere outside of Japan. Period.

The position of The Japan Peace Committee and “almost all politically aware people in Japan feel that the GSDF are unconstitutional and should be disbanded, and that U.S. military bases are not needed.”

A lot of Americans would take issue with that, I’m sure. But I would have to agree. U.S. military bases in Japan only serve to make Japan a “target” and to increase tensions in the Pacific.

Marshall McLuhan one of the world’s most renowned experts on how the mass media creates perceptions in society wrote in his classic book, The Medium is the Massage: “As you prepare, so shall you proceed.” These words have stuck in my mind for years.


“As you prepare, so shall you proceed.” ~ Marshall McLuhan

“As you prepare, so shall you proceed.” To give you some incredibly simplistic examples: If you prepare to go on a camping trip, you will go on a camping trip. If you prepare to go on a vacation. You will go on a vacation. If you prepare a huge army to invade Iraq, you will invade Iraq. If you prepare for war, you will go to war. It’s that simple.

America continually builds a huge military and, as such, continually gets involved in foreign wars. According to historian William Blum, since the end of World War II, the U.S. has bombed: China (Twice. The first time between 1945 and 1946. The second time between 1950 to 1953); Korea; Guatemala (Three times! The first time in 1954. The second time in 1960. The third time between 1967 to 1969); Indonesia; Cuba; Congo; Peru; Laos; Vietnam; Cambodia; Grenada; Libya; El Salvador; Nicaragua; Panama; Sudan; Afghanistan (Twice. The first time in 1998. The second time between 2002 to today); Yugoslavia; And Iraq (For over 14 years — even now).

The United States has bombed all of these countries since 1945 and not a single one of them have become a so-called “Democratic” country. How many more young people and innocents, how many more of your children, will die because “America proceeds as it has prepared?”

Japan has a GSDF whose soul purpose is to defend Japan against attack. That is the way all nations should be. To redefine a few words from “Ground Self Defense Forces” into “military” is to prepare for the inevitable foreign war.

Some people would argue that Japan needs to build a big military because of threats from North Korea or China. All I can say to that is, “Get real!” There will never be a war with North Korea unless the United States starts it. And the idea that there is such a thing as “Red China” is irrational at best. China is a capitalist society.

Why should Japan prepare for a war against China? China can’t even control its so-called “runaway” province of Taiwan. Prepare for war with North Korea? That would be idiotic. North Korea can’t even feed it’s own people. What possible benefit could they derive from attacking Japan?

The biggest problem I can see from over here is that the average American is ignorant, ill-informed, and could care less. Americans think Japan owes them something for “protecting” Japan during Japan’s economic recovery. Sorry, but Japan pays billions of dollars a year for the U.S. bases here in Japan. And this begs the question, “protection from whom?”

Dictators come and go. People get old and die. If enemy troops were landing on Santa Monica beach in Southern California, I could see where America could use a few troops.

But like the first Commandant of the U.S. Marines, Smedley Butler said in his book, War Is a Racket “It would require an army of one million men and enough supplies to feed, clothe, and arm these soldiers for a period of eight months for an enemy to ever have any hope of even making a successful landing in the United States.” (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the picture).

But America prepares for war, so we have to use these weapons before they get old, and kill your sons and daughters (and everyone else’s) along the way.

If Japan follows suit, and builds a big military, then as it prepares, so shall it proceed. Need evidence? Just look at the United States. How many wars has America had in these last 60 years? Japan has had none.

Could it be that Japan has not prepared for war, so there hasn’t been any war that Japan has been involved in? Are Americans open-minded enough to consider that possibility? Or has God assigned America the role as the world’s policeman?

Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution says:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

“In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as other war potential will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

It seems pretty straightforward. That’s why changing the name of the GSDF to “the Army” or “Navy,” “Air-force,” etc, has frightening connotations for the people of this country.

Also, many lawyers in this country will point out that the final sentence of this article which states, “The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” Means that Japan should not recognize the U.S. attack on Iraq as it was against international law as well as contravening Japanese law. Therefore Japan, by law, should have absolutely nothing to do with this act of aggression.

To put it even more bluntly: Japan should renounce this war crime committed by the United States against the people of Iraq.

Nor should Japan ever prepare itself to be in a future position to commit, or be a party to, a similar war crime.

The Japanese Constitution also states in Article 98:

“This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the nation and no law, ordinance, imperial rescript or other act of government, or part thereof, contrary to the provisions hereof, shall have legal force or validity.”

This is written plainly in the Japanese Constitution. It cannot be altered.

But then, again, the U.S. Constitution states something along the same lines, doesn’t it?

I guess when the original of the U.S. Constitution is put up for auction at Sotheby’s they might as well throw in the Japanese Constitution as well.

They are not worth the paper they are written on.

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality in the mass media for nearly 30 years.

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