Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 9 News List

Japan must not waver in Iraq

Because Japan's hesitation to aid its British allies in World War I helped lead to another world war, Tokyo cannot afford to pull back from its efforts in Baghdad

By Hideaki Kaneda

Of course, restoring peace and security is taking much more time than expected.

With almost daily terrorist attacks, ordinary citizens victimized by weapons fire and misconceived bombing, the abuses of Iraqi prisoners and the hostility of Iraq's Shiites -- on whom the US had pinned high hopes for the peace process -- American policy is in danger of failing.

The question for Japan is this: what will happen, both in Iraq and in the world, if America withdraws in failure? It is in recognition of the possible consequences -- bolder terrorists and a return of US isolationism -- that many countries sent and retain troops in Iraq.

Indeed, Russia, France and Germany, which confronted the US and Britain at the UN over the Iraq war, and the UN itself, which withdrew early in the occupation, are all now searching for ways to assist in Iraq's rehabilitation.

In the end, they agreed on international efforts under UN Security Council Resolution 1546. France and Germany will now participate by helping to train Iraqi security forces.

Considering all this, Iraq represents a decisive moment and a "matter of national importance" for Japan. Thus its Self Defense Forces must continue their humanitarian and restoration efforts while cooperating with Japan's key ally, the US, as a member of an integrated multinational force under UN leadership.

Even if dangerous situations arise, Japan must not flinch. Only by demonstrating dignified resolve will Japan's national interests be defended.

True autonomy for Japan, as in the past, depends on active and cooperative engagement in containing a world crisis.

Hideaki Kaneda is a retired vice admiral in Japan's Self Defense Forces and is currently director of the Okazaki Institute.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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