Manila Report Winter 2013
Manila Report 2013 Winter: Bringing the Fight Beyond Japan's Borders
Right after 3.11, I had the chance to write down my thoughts in a SGRA Kawaraban (weekly online newsletter). Amidst an unprecedented disaster, I was moved at the fighting spirit of the Japanese citizens, and the global citizens that came to help, prompting me to write that this crisis is also an opportunity to review the philosophies that was Japan's very own, and to this day she has presented to the world. This "review" that I propose is not the "drastic reform" which, as shown in the lost decades of Japan, was extremely critical even of the good points of the country. What actually inspired me was the review of Japan's aspects that should be protected, in a way that further activates these aspects. The aspects that should be preserved are: the peace constitution, the three non-nuclear principles, and shared growth, which actually is the subject of my research. These could be further activated through: a Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF) that could swiftly and effectively respond to natural disasters; a non-nuclear principle that includes zero nuclear power generation; and a shared growth that extends outside of Japan.
Japan is now embroiled in a domestic struggle about these three review points. This fight is now spilling beyond her borders, and inevitably has reached Philippine shores.
The super typhoon, said to be the world's largest typhoon, that hit the Philippines on November 7, 2013, dealt a heavy blow from which even now the country is still reeling. We are filled with gratitude for the support of many countries. From Japan, we saw the largest deployment for relief efforts in the history of the Japanese SDF to the most severely hit island, Leyte. As is well known in the Philippines, Leyte was actually the island on which Gen. MacArthur led the landing of Allied Forces to fulfill his promise to the Filipinos "I shall return" during the occupation of the Philippines by Japanese forces. No one would have imagined then that a huge contingent of Japanese forces, aimed at protecting the Japanese citizenry, would be landing on the island to help embattled Philippine nationals. In order to ensure the transparency of overseas assistance, the Philippine government on this occasion created a website (Foreign Aid Transparency Hub), which reported (accessed on December 20, 2013) that Japan was one of the top three countries that have committed assistance for this typhoon disaster. The UK was first at US$96 million, Japan was second at US$74 million, and the US was third at US$ 62 million. This generous assistance is very much appreciated considering that Japan is still recovering from 3.11. It seems that his assistance includes "repayment" for the assistance that the Philippines extended to Japan after their big disaster.
In the Philippines, there is a nuclear power plant the construction of which was suspended about 30 years ago by a civil resistance movement. Given that it was suspended, I was imagining that the buildings are now dilapidated, equipment has been sold or rusting, and the grounds have been overgrown with grass. After the SGRA study tour to Fukushima on October last year, I took a look at the recent discussion about nuclear power plants in the Philippines. I was surprised to know that the nuclear power plant is practically new since it enjoyed a maintenance budget all these decades from the Philippine government. On the last day of the Fukushima study tour, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask the Group for Resurrecting Fukushima, one of the co- organizers of the study tour, to lend me their support as SGRA Philippines strives to keep the Philippines a zero nuclear country. Looking further into the matter, I found out that a group of high school students from Fukushima visited the Bataan nuclear power plant. In a newspaper interview, they remarked that the beautiful landscape of the Philippines should not be put at risk by operating the nuclear power plant. Despite the difficulties that the young of Japan have gone through because of the lost decades and the prospect of being burdened with the nuclear program legacy of their country, it is truly praiseworthy to hear such a mature opinion.
Even with regards to my research subject of shared growth, thanks in part to the entry of Japanese firms, the DNA of shared grow is being transmitted to the Philippines. As SGRA Kawaraban readers would know, Japan was able to achieve the "East Asian Miracle" wherein the rapid growth of GDP was accompanied by a reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, the Philippines was not able to experience the East Asian Miracle, but through my research, I was able to confirm the existence of the Shared Growth DNA at the level of economic zones, of a group of firms, and of a firm. My research on Shared Growth, which has been shown by Japan as possible, has continued and received much support since the establishment of SGRA. In the early years, I was doing this research through the “Japan’s Identity Amidst Globalization” Team. It was and still is my belief that Shared Growth is supported by Japan’s identity. In order to transmit what I have learned from Japan, I have been holding the SGRA Manila Seminar on an average of twice a year since 2004. The 17th Philippine-Japan Shared Growth Seminar will be held on February 11th (Tues). Those interested, please consult the following link for more details:
But, to think that the fight in these three areas I mentioned is over would be a big mistake.
Due to global warming, climate change will continue to be a problem as it causes various damages that we might not be able to fully predict. An organization like the Self-Defense Force, which could respond systematically while putting the lives of their members on the line, will continue to be indispensable. However, the geo-political situation in East Asia is deteriorating, and even the revision of Japan’s Peace Constitution, which constitutes the basic philosophy for the establishment of the Self-Defense Force, has now become a possibility.
Even after the occurrence of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the construction of nuclear power plants in the world has not stopped. In the Philippines, there are powerful parties that seek to push the nuclear power option, despite the huge debt that has been repaid, and the power outages cost incurred by the Philippine citizens.
In the Philippines, shared growth continues to be a La Manchan dream. Income distribution remains to be highly inequitable. The country is mired in a “middle income trap”. Compared to the other Southeast Asian countries, the country is not as popular from the point of view of Japanese investors. Whether within or without the country, growth is not shared with the citizenry.
These three struggles are interconnected. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth incurs a more severe damage from natural disasters and is only able to recover slowly. In such a country, the majority of the citizenry would live in fragile residences, and the social infrastructure would be weak. The machinery and savings needed to recover would be very scarce. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth would be weak against a sweetly packaged nuclear option. There has been a lot of cases where even with a citizenry that has said “NO”, nuclear power plants are constructed where there are decision makers that would benefit from it.
These are issues that would be discussed in the February 11th Manila Seminar. Hopefully, this would lead to action that has been thought out.