In August 1962, Rand Corporation employee Albert Wohlstetter travelled to Japan to investigate the state of Japanese security policy. Wolstetter met with both American and Japanese experts and officials. His report, later published as, “Impressions and Appraisals in Japan” and available at the Rand Corp web site, is an interesting time capsule of Japan in the 1960s, with talk of the communist threat, domestic rioting and dissidents over security issues, and preparations for World War III. It’s a time when the Japanese military was still a recipient of aid under the Military Assistance Program, and there were official links between the U.S. Military and the Self Defense Forces to build up them up after the end of World War II. The entire document is worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few choice selections.
Many of these points will, fifty years later, still be very familiar to readers.
Wohlstetter met with General Worthington, head of the American Military Assistance Advisory Group to Japan.
Worthington turned out to be a very modest and very cordial man. We began by my asking questions as to how he viewed the threat which the MAAG program in Japan was helping to meet. He responded that he thought that Japan was the primary target of the Communist bloc in Asia, that the Japanese themselves were being extremely unrealistic on the whole about this, but that we were ourselves in good part to blame for it. We did a nice job in making them pacifists, Worthington said.
The discussion then turns to the three arms of the Self Defense Forces: Ground, Sea, and Air:
“The Japanese division is, in particular, pretty far from the NATO organization of the same title. Divisions are supposed to average about 8,000, that is there are some 7,000 and some 9,000-man divisions. However, this is authorization rather than actuality. In fact, the Japanese divisions are at some 62% of authorization, meaning that their “division” amounts now to something like 5,000 men, or roughly what we would consider a good sized brigade.
As for their preparation, he thought that the Japanese could fight for perhaps about 30 days, there were no reserves or logistic back-up authorized.
He commented on the fact that they had a very good ASW force and that they had been better than the U.S. in the last exercise. On the Air Force, he said that the Fifth Air Force still runs the show, but that JSDAF, the Japanese self-defense air force, was very good. In fact, JSDAF runs the GCI now — not only for themselves but for us too. He said the ground forces, however, were not up to snuff and they are at very low strength.
On ASW, he said they are very good operationally, but had quite a small force. Moreover, they were using our equipment, much of it World War II equipment. They are, however, building some. We furnish Sonar, the Tartar missile, and P2V7, which last is financed on a 50-50 basis. They are training a hunter-killer team but have not yet developed any great skill at it.”
On perceptions of Japanese interest in security issues:
“There’s no doubt about Rooyama’s being a serious man as far as his interest in these questions is concerned. He is writing on arms control policy now. It’s evident that in the current climate of opinion in Japan that writing on arms control is reasonably OK, where writing on defense policy or concerning yourself with national defense is regarded as a resurgence of militarism.”
On getting Japan to play a larger military role in Asia:
“It was possible that the presence of a threat might be just the sort of thing that would react to bring the Japanese to some greater sense of responsibility. It was hard to say. On the other hand, it seemed to me that there was likely to be an interaction of military and political elements, a feedback negative or positive.
Osborne observed that the U.S. presence had contributed to the anti-military feeling in Japan and had identified military forces with occupational foreign forces. He had felt that perhaps the best thing for Japan and the United States would be if the Japanese were deprived of the American umbrella so that they might be forced to be aware of the realities of the threat themselves.
I observed that there were many ways in which it was apparent the Japanese suffered from some of the same sorts of irresponsibility as a rich man’s son, say Corliss Lamont. They could afford irresponsibility since they were protected by Pappa. On the other hand, shock treatment wasn’t always the right kind of thing in this circumstance. The problem with adolescents is to make them grow, and this means presenting them with some challenges, but not overwhelming ones. The Indians, for example, who were not allied with the United States, and who, in Nehru’s words, felt that they would “lose their soul” if they were allied, hadn’t developed any notable degree of realism as a result of their neutralism.”
On the Japanese Left and defense:
“Wakaizumi has spent three years in the London School and one year at Paul Nitze’s Johns Hopkins Institute of Foreign Affairs. He seems to me to be extremely intelligent and dedicated, and quite hard-headed. He spoke briefly of the general irresponsibility of the intellectuals in Japan. Wakaizumi felt that the Japanese intellectuals were basically naive and that their main problem was that they seriously believed that there was no communist threat, that the main problem was American imperialism. The position of the intellectuals in the political left called for a “naked neutralism.” That is, it calls for an end to the alliance and the American guarantee, and at the same time it does not recognize that neutrality of that sort has to be defended, as in Switzerland or Sweden.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
There’s much more in the report. Go read it already!
A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch