Just proving that you cannot escape the political expediency of an appeal to a broader discourse:
LDP’s Nakatani calls foes of MSDF mission ‘terrorists’
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007
Gen Nakatani, head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s panel on security policy, has enraged the opposition camp by calling opponents of the Indian Ocean refueling mission “terrorists.”
“Only terrorists would oppose (the mission),” Nakatani, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on Security, said Sunday on a Fuji TV talk show.
Maritime Self-Defense Force ships in the Indian Ocean are currently refueling ships of countries taking part in antiterrorism operations in and around Afghanistan, based on a special law that expires Nov. 1.
“Given that about 30 percent of the public is opposed to the refueling activities, it means three in 10 Japanese are terrorists, ” Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said at a news conference. “It’s outrageous that such horrendous remarks were made before TV cameras. It’s no joke.”
Nakatani’s remarks even drew criticism Monday from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
“Even if he was speaking metaphorically . . . I think it was not really appropriate wording,” Fukuda said during a session of the House of Councilors Budget Committee.
Pretty inflammatory, huh?
It’s a tactic we’ve seen used to self-defeating effects in the US and throughout the world. Perhaps in an age of patriotic fever, such as the immediate post-9/11 political climate in the US, then one can get away with such nonsense. However, in Japan, where the constitutionality of Indian Ocean mission has always been debatable, such talk is surely a sign of frustration.
Gen Nakatani was an officer of the GSDF (serving April 1980-December 1984) and became secretary to the Director-General of the Defense Agency, Koichi Kato, in 1985. Throughout his career, Nakatani has had strong links to the defence establishment and since April 2001 (that is, since the start of Koizumi’s leadership) he has been the man at the head of Japan’s said establishment.
Perhaps with such credentials, it is likely that he has a lot at stake in the mission both in terms of his past and future.
Regardless, there is no call for such a blatant use of inflammatory labels. Nakatani is engaging in a politics of fear as characterised by a ‘There is No Alternative’ (TINA) perspective (see Furedi, ‘Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right’). TINA closes down the space for debate. No-one wants to be a terrorist (even terrorists would seem to prefer the ‘freedom fighter’ label), so an effective use of this appeal to the terrorist discourse would close off the space for opposition to the subject at hand.
Unfortunately for Nakatani, his speech act (the process of stating something to make it so) was utterly disastrous and incredible. He has done no favours for his party nor himself and Fukuda was right to criticise Nakatani. Such labels had been previously applied to the North Korean threat without much criticism (see Leheny, Think Global Fear Local), but it is one thing to label a foreigner a terrorist, and quite another to apply the same label to a portion of the population and its political representatives. A career politician such as Nakatani should know better.