We used to say, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," but this is no longer true these days

Thursday, April 07 2011 @ 06:05 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto


The faded photo
of Hibiya Park and
its surrounding area
was taken by a GI in
November 1945
When the U.S. government offered a massive relief operation involving 18,000 troops, the Japanese government jumped at it and named it "Operation Tomodachi." To be more precise, it should have been named Operation Yujo because Yujo means friendship whereas Tomodachi just means a friend, or friends. Semantics aside, however, most Japanese have really appreciated the friendship demonstrated by the Americans because they are really fed up with their government which has constantly mishandled the post-quake situation.

My take on the operation is miles apart from theirs. I suspect there's something fishy about it. To begin with, Prime Minister Naoto Kan had already dispatched an unprecedented 100,000 military personnel of the Japan Self-Defense Forces to these areas afflicted by the March 11 quake and tsunami. What the heck are they doing out there?

Japan's defense budget for fiscal 2010 was 4,682.6 billion yen, or approximately US$56.4 billion if you exclude what they call omoiyari yosan, "sympathy" budget, voluntarily allocated to the U.S. armed forces stationed in Japan. Despite the huge expenditure, Japan's disguised military has refused to engage in actual combat in the last six decades on the pretext that the Constitution prohibits "forever" the Japanese people from threatening or using "force as means of settling international disputes." Thanks to the war-renouncing clause, the Japanese can still boast that not a single drop of their blood, nor their enemy's, has been shed in actual warfare. To them, it can't be helped if the lives of American youth sometimes have to be put at risk.

Yet, they should admit that Article 9 of the Constitution does not prohibit these toy soldiers from fighting a disaster. So, there is no reason to think the 100,000 troops are doing fairly well in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures. Actually all they have been doing there is to recover a small number of corpses here, remove a tiny amount of debris there and haphazardly pour a bucketful seawater onto the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. It seems as though they are deliberately doing their jobs so poorly as to prove Operation Tomodachi is as needed as in fighting an imaginary enemy force.

I remember walking side by side with my father on a clear day in the fall of 1945. We were crossing Hibiya Koen park diagonally toward the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers because someone in the GHQ had wanted to ask my father about his wartime activities as a leading scientist in aeronautics. He had somehow wanted to bring me along. You may wonder why we could cross the park diagonally. The reason we could do so is because the park and the surrounding area had been almost flattened out leaving only a handful of structures such as the GHQ building and the Imperial Palace across the moat from it.

There were dozens of GIs playing softball there. When we were walking behind a center fielder, a batter hit a long ball. It directly hit me, perhaps on the shoulder. The slugging GI dashed a long way from the plate toward us. He said in English something like, "I'm awfully sorry. Are you OK?" Since I didn't understand English, my dad smiled and answered on my behalf: "No problem. He's quite OK."

This was my first encounter with an American. Ever since, I thought ordinary Americans were all friendly people like the GI. I admired them for their positive attitude toward life and straightforward way of thinking. Even though I didn't particularly admire those bastards named Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, in later years I got really turned off by the likes of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama because these crooked guys have absolutely nothing in common with the GI.

Now I think it is noteworthy that there are many soldiers participating in Operation Tomodachi from the bases in Okinawa. U.S. Navy Admiral Robert F. Willard has already told reporters to the effect that he hopes that the Japanese will now understand what for the U.S. has deployed so many soldiers in Okinawa. Most recent reports have it that Hillary Clinton is now planning to come over to Japan in a week or so.

I am quite sure that the last thing the huckster would admit is that fishing in troubled waters is what the superfluous Operation Tomodachi is all about.

I have absolutely nothing against friendship and camaraderie among wholesome individuals or nations. Also I know there still are a smaller number of good-natured and well-mannered servicemen in the Tomodachi crew. They have been taught to care for the weak, pay due respect to those who deserve it, and equally important, not to lie. But that does not make any difference to the fact that in all likelihood, the entire operation cannot be well-intended.

We don't need any more Tomodachi from the country which is now doomed to failure because of the arrogance on the part of its people.

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