【PART 1】 Mystery of Okinawa: Military Bases and the Constitution

 

【26】 Bureaucrats’ loyalties lay with the “legal structure under the Security Treaty”

 

The collection of agreements regarding the Security Treaty has been named “the legal structure under the Security Treaty” by Masayasu Hasegawa, Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law at Nagoya University. This “structure” officially became superior to Japanese domestic laws after the Supreme Court ruling in the Sunagawa Case. In other words, in the case of a lawsuit, “the vast number of agreements” are the ones who would always win.

Bureaucrats, of course, are drawn to the winning side. Laws are the basis of their existence, so naturally they prioritize the higher prevailing legal structure (the structure under the Security Treaty) rather than the lower submissive one (Japanese domestic laws). Obviously bureaucrats would not want to side with the losing side in a lawsuit. They cannot really be blamed for acting as they do.

What’s more, when I looked up the later careers of Japan-U.S. Joint Committee members, I found out that they were very successful indeed.

This tendency was especially marked in the Ministry of Justice. Out of the past administrative vice ministers, which is the highest position in the Ministry, 12 out of 17 are former members of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee (those who experienced being a chief secretary). Moreover, nine of them later took on the position of Public Prosecutor General, which is considered an even higher rank.

As anyone can see, for more than 60 years a structure has been established in which those who joined the inner circle for discussing the legal structure under the Security Treaty always end up at the top of Japan’s power structure. For example, the boss of an elite bureaucracy would be a part of this inner circle, and so would his boss, and his boss’s boss, and so on. It’s impossible to be independent. That’s why it’s quite possible for elite bureaucrats to band together to openly rebel against a constitutionally selected prime minister, as proven by the experience of Mr. Hatoyama.

In the beginning of this chapter, I wrote that the following two questions were what drove me to visit Okinawa:

Who is the one who actually brought Prime Minister Hatoyama down?

What was the “other entity besides the prime minister” that the bureaucrats were loyal to?

Understanding this structure has led to the answer to these questions. The bureaucrats were loyal to this legal structure under the Security Treaty, which is higher on the hierarchy of authority than the Constitution of Japan.

 

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 Feb, 2012 refer to the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the home page)