A spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs quoted Secretary Albert del Rosario as saying that the Philippines would “support a rearmed Japan as a counterweight to what it sees as a Chinese provocation” (Inquirer, 12/11/12). Would this stratagem serve long-range Philippine national interests? Japan is now only a third-rate global economic power, having lost the position of No. 2 to China. For the present, because its constitution prohibits it from building a military except for self-defense, its capability for projecting military power is limited. On the other hand, China is in a position to surpass the United States as the No. 1 economic power in possibly a decade or two.
Economic power determines military power in the long run. Great Britain was the greatest empire for a long period primarily because of its economic supremacy that enabled it to establish an unrivaled navy and military. When its economy declined after World War II, so did its empire. So while the United States is undoubtedly the strongest military power in the world at present, its military superiority is not expected to transcend its economic power, which is in decline.
Hitching our star to a setting sun like Japan even as its economy stagnates is definitely not the way to ensure our economic and national security in the future. Because of its increasing wealth, China has become a rich source of foreign investment and trade. Of course there is the United States, but as a source of investments, it is declining.
Together, the United States and Japan form a military axis that currently appears impregnable in the region. But there is also China and Russia whose strategic alliance counters that of Japan and America, and they also are an integral part of the Asia-Pacific region.
Further, how will the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), of which the Philippines is one of the founding members, react to our initiative to support a rearmed Japan? All members of the Asean, not least the Philippines, suffered from the Japanese military expansionism and aggression during World War II. Japan has yet to apologize for its colonial rampage that killed millions of Chinese and Asia-Pacific inhabitants, including rapine and the use of women as sexual slaves.
Of course, we have our territorial dispute with China. But both China and the Philippines have committed to peaceful means to settle the dispute. History has shown that such disputes need not lead to war or to wider conflicts.
As for Japanese rearmament, are we sure it would not ignite a revival of Japanese imperialism? After all, Japanese militarism has simmered in the surface and appears to have broken out as its dispute with China over the Diaoyu islands tensed.
We must think deeply to ensure that future generations of Filipinos won’t be embroiled anew in another destructive conflict, especially where the protagonists are armed with nuclear weapons. The Philippines has yet to enjoy its share in the rising prosperity of Asia as the West declines. We should not miss the chance to enable our people to at least taste the joy of decent living before our world explodes again.
—MANUEL F. ALMARIO,
spokesman, Movement for Truth in History,