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Future of War and Peace at Stake in Streets of Japan

Future of War and Peace at Stake in Streets of Japan

The United States and its European allies have launched wars on the Middle East that have created an enormous refugee crisis. The same nations are threatening Russia. The question of maintaining peace with Iran is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Even in Asia and the Pacific, not to mention Africa, the biggest military buildup is by the United States.

So why does Japan, of all places, have streets full of antiwar demonstrations for the first time since the U.S. war on Vietnam? I don’t mean the usual protests in Okinawa of U.S. bases. I mean Japanese protests of the Japanese government. Why? Who did Japan bomb? And why do I say the future of war and peace in the world is at stake in Japan?

Let’s back up a little. Japan went through a period of relative peace and prosperity between 1614 and 1853. The U.S. military forced Japan open to trade and trained Japan as a junior partner in imperialism, a story told well in James Bradley’s The Imperial Cruise. The junior partner chose not to stay a junior partner, challenging U.S. dominance in World War II.

At the end of World War II, the war’s losers in Japan and Germany were put on trial for an act that had been perfectly legal until 1928, the act of making war. In 1928, the global peace movement, led by the U.S. movement for the Outlawry of War, created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty that prohibits all war, a treaty to which most nations of the world are party today. This is a story I tell in my book When the World Outlawed War. President Franklin Roosevelt used the Kellogg-Briand Pact to create prosecutions of war.

 

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