Intercultural insight through common words
Other Eyes and Ears HAMAJI Michio
The Deliberate Misuse of “Positive Peace”
Photograph: Gary Cameron/Reuters
April 29 of this year. A standing ovation!!
In the first address ever by a Japanese citizen to a joint session of the United States Congress, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had spoken for 50 minutes, bringing the assembled legislators to their feet no fewer than ten times with the power of his rhetoric. In particular, twice during his speech he stressed the phrase “proactive contribution to peace.”
These are dangerous words to emphasize before the U.S. Congress, Japan’s (military) ally, words that could be seen as implying a preemptive strike against a perceived enemy attack. In fact, in the midst of Japan’s debate about collective self-defense, his statement is in perfect agreement with the most important of three new conditions for allowing the use of force, adopted by the Japanese Cabinet on July 1 of last year: “In the event another nation with close ties to Japan (not Japan itself) comes under armed attack.” Well, that explains the standing ovation in Congress—that “another nation” is none other than the United States.
The official Japanese translation of the phrase from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is “Sekkyokuteki heiwa shugi,” or “positive pacifism.” The words originated with Professor Johan Galtung (1930~), known as “the father of peace studies,” as a way to define the absence of war as “negative peace.” He also proposed a “positive peace” (1969) to describe a social system that is permanently without poverty, oppression, discrimination or structural violence, an idea that brought about a groundbreaking transformation in the understanding of peace. Internationally, this is a well-known concept.
In this way, in his speech before the U.S. Congress in English, aimed at countries outside of Japan, Abe spoke of a “proactive contribution to peace,” (which could be taken as referring to a preemptive strike), while domestically, in Japanese, he used “positive pacifism,” a deliberate device (misuse). This is also a misuse of Galtung’s own definition.
Article 9 of the Japanese constitution is unusual in that it renounces war and the use of force as a means of settling international disputes, and does not recognize the right of belligerency of the state. It should be considered a global treasure. The Japanese people, responsible for protecting this treasure, themselves have an obligation to be proactive in keeping a careful eye on the developing political situation.
International business consultant. Global Human Development Japan, Senior Advisor.
After Keio University (Economics) in 1965, studied at the International Studies Institute before taking up a post in the MiddleEast affairs at a major Trading House. At the age of 45, moved to the information business in New York, to promote Japanese-US communications.
In 2002, chose the path of self-employment. Set up the Saudi Arabian pavilion at the Aichi Expo. Had worked on music videos of renowned L.
Bernstein. Had advised Japan branch of US Cognizant and UK Pearson. Executive Coordinator of the Japan operation of French AtoS..