Butter over guns

In the Asahi survey of political attitudes discussed in this post, respondents were asked to pick which portions of the budget that would like to see enhanced and which portions they would like to see cut.

I already noted that the top three programs respondents want to see enhanced are health and welfare, economic stimulus, and agriculture.

The top programs to cut?

Public works (53 percent), defense (49 percent) and international cooperation (37 percent).

It is encouraging to see that the public has little appetite for more concrete, but the second figure gives me pause. Defense ranks highly despite seven consecutive years of defense budget cuts, about which Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu complained when asked at a press conference in December. It ranks highly despite the ceaseless effort by Japanese elites to alert the public to the danger posed by North Korea and by China's military modernization program. I suppose this means that Ozawa Ichiro's remarks about a sharp reduction of US forces in Japan are not so much wrong as they are irrelevant — the Japanese people have no desire to undertake the commitment implied by Ozawa's ideas, they want even less of a defense commitment.

Combining the results of the cabinet survey on defense issues (discussed here) and the Asahi survey, it seems that the Japanese people want nothing more than to be protected from foreign threats by the United States and protected from economic insecurity by their own government. Far from wanting to throw off the Yoshida Doctrine, the Japanese people want to revive it for the twenty-first century.

Something tells me that the US will be not as obliging as it was in the early 1950s.


Other posts by Tobias Harris:

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