Their Own Masters
Michael Ubaldi, April 9, 2004.
Yesterday I referenced Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's statement of resolve in the face of Iraq's continuing challenges. That statement is part of a developing national antiphony. The socio- and geopolitical transcendence of Japan is something I've been watching for a few months, now. Known well for decades as a culturally callow, pacifist nation that has relied on greater powers for protection, Japan has not only found balance on its own two legs but confidently so:
The Japanese public has traditionally had a low tolerance for involvement in areas of geopolitical conflict, particularly if there is a risk to Japanese lives. But despite the kidnapping of three Japanese civilians on Thursday, public opinion has so far supported the firm stance of Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister, that the government should not bow to terrorist demands to pull its forces out of Iraq. ...[T]he overwhelming public response has been that Japan should not cave in. An online poll conducted by the left-leaning Mainichi newspaper on Friday, showed that 70 per cent supported the government's decision to keep the SDF in Iraq, while 26 per cent thought it should leave the country.
The consensus is that the Japanese public has become much more realistic about the threat of global terrorism and more willing to accept that Japan needs to play a role in preventing acts of terrorism. "Japan has become considerably more mature" in its view of the world, says Mr Nakatani. "The Japanese public is becoming much more internationally-minded. The North Korean situation is discussed daily on talk shows and even the US election have become a topic," says Mr Toshikawa.
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