12-14: American Vets Speak Out in Japan

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece with excerpts from an article which first appeared in Jacobin by Rory Fanning, author of Worth Fighting for: An Army Ranger’s Journey out of the Military and across America.]

[Wars Cause PTSD. Whether tomorrow, a decade from now, or 30 years down the line, the war experience today will torture a soldier’s mind. It is not necessary to argue, debate, or fight about our reason(s) for going to war; it is the act of war that attacks the psyche. End the wars, end the suffering.]

Not all combat veterans, thankfully, develop PTSD. But I feel it safe to say that those who do also develop an aversion to war. What follows is the tale of two combat veterans who carried their anti-war sentiments all the way to Japan.

Veterans on an Antiwar Mission to Japan

Rory Fanning … went on a speaking tour with … Michael Hanes, a former Marine Force Recon … staff sergeant who was part of the initial 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The article first appeared in Jacobin.

(As reported in Jacobin,) a vibrant antiwar movement is blooming in Japan right now. Trade unions, civic groups and an overwhelming number of young people are galvanizing the country around Article 9 of the Japanese constitution–the article that has kept Japan out of war for the last 70 years.

Article 9 keeps Japan out of war, but it also allows for over 100 active U.S. military bases within the country. One must wonder which country benefits more from the American omnipresence in Japan … and at what perpetual cost befalls American taxpayers.

Each weekend since March, between 5,000 and 10,000 people have gathered outside of the Diet (Japan’s parliament) in Tokyo to protest Shinzō Abe, Japan’s prime minister and the hawkish members of his Liberal Democratic Party who are trying to repeal Article 9. Abe … is a fierce defender of U.S. military bases inside of Japan and is making significant legislative gains towards ridding Japan of the article, which ensures Japan only takes up arms against another country when it is being directly attacked….

Michael Hanes and I (Fanning) … recently toured the country on a trip sponsored by Veterans for Peace and a group within the Japanese American Bar Association (JABA) dedicated to protecting Article 9….

We aimed to express solidarity with those opposing the 50,000 U.S. troops stationed in the 122 U.S. military sites inside of Japan and to help this emerging antiwar movement expose the many dangers and lies that accompany militarization.

… Echoes of David Swanson’s War Is a Lie. Vietnam was a lie, Iraq was a lie … and on and on.

[A key part of Fannin’s message:] “Every one of the million or so deaths–the vast majority being innocent civilians—resulting from U.S. military interventions around the world since 9/11 has been carried out in the name of ‘self-defense.’ Please don’t let your government sell you that same false argument to repeal Article 9” …

Japan Violates Its Own Law

Under Article 9, in order for Japan to justify sending the SDF into a country, a ceasefire agreement must be in place within the country; the SDF must have consent from the government in the conflict zone; the SDF mission must be conducting a nonpartisan operation; Tokyo must have the freedom to pull the plug if any conditions are not met; and finally the SDF must limit use of force.

None of these conditions are being met in South Sudan, making Japan’s military presence in the country a clear violation of Japanese law….

As we have seen in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and all the other countries the United States has invaded since 9/11, however, military intervention only makes a country less stable and more violent.…

Japanese Constitution an American-Authored Document

In early 1946, General Douglas MacArthur and his staff wrote the Japanese constitution and sought, in part, to ensure Japan never posed a military threat to the United States and the world again. Despite being written by a conquering general, 70 years on, large numbers of Japanese cherish this element of the existing constitution.

There was no oil!

Oh that our own Constitution would make it more difficult to conduct war, or that the citizenry would express greater outrage when we do. The bromide “Congress declares war” is also a lie. We allow our military to deploy worldwide and allow politicians to claim they do so in defense of democracy.

“The world is less safe.”

… We talked about our own military experience, the devastating effects our actions had on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, why the world is less safe as a result of U.S. military intervention around the world … We talked about how education, health care, infrastructure, and the environment all suffer as a result of militarization; we discussed how our leaders often overstate the threats to security to justify bloated military budgets and steal other countries’ resources through interventions….

In Japan, Mike and I saw a glimpse of what is possible when a country is able to resist its leaders’ demands for war and channel its resources to human development and flourishing. We saw the power of civilian diplomacy. We learned that ordinary Japanese have much more in common with ordinary Americans than we do with our respective leaders who send us off to kill each other in war….

Noble, If Not “Notable”

Mike and I have no notable profile; we are simply former American soldiers who went to Japan to support peace, not war. In a country that has embraced peace for 70 years but now fears war, this was national news….


The illustration at the blog’s top corner is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *