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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #122: April 17, 2003

Post-War Japan Occupation No Road-Map for Iraq

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Post-War Japan Occupation No Road-Map for Iraq"
(By Linda Sieg) Reuters


This article considers the possibility of US using a similar strategy to that it adopted to occupy Japan after WWII to be applied in rebuilding Iraq. The conclusion is, as expected, a flat no, that the circumstances are so different that the idea would not work.

This is not the only report that tackles the theme, however. One of the recent trends with regard to report on Iraqi affairs is a comparison between Iraq after the war and Japan after WWII. It is not certain as to whether the trend is universal or local, but quite a number of articles written from this viewpoint could be found, especially in media readily accessible from Japan.

It seems, according to some reports, the analogy was first hinted by US government sources as early as last fall, that the White House was developing a plan to install an American-led military government in Iraq, modeled on the post-WWII occupation of Japan.

Most of scant commentaries at the time had already pointed out the danger of using such a naive image of correlation to be applied to the real Iraqi situation, and the US government apparently backed away from such an idea shortly afterwards. But the story lingered on until it caught attention again as the exchange of gunfire was ceasing in Iraq and people began to wander what to expect next.

As virtually all articles referring to the topic conclude, including the one introduced here, the analogy is a preposterous science fiction at best.

The question, therefore, is not how postwar Iraq is similar to post-WWII Japan, but why such a wild thought keep on catching people's attention.

Perhaps one reason is that there are not many, at least not enough, people out there who know both Japan and Iraq to analyze the idea. It is doubtful that more than a small fraction of people in Japan could point to where Iraq is on an unmarked globe, and vice versa for Iraqi people. (This is not to insult people of either country. For that matter, probably even smaller number of Americans would be able to locate Japan or Iraq, with an excuse that they can live well without such knowledge.)

However, there could be a bright side to this phenomenon for media to take up this subject. The stories based on the wild analogy have stimulated many Japanese to realize the complexity of the real Iraqi issue, which seemed so remote to them before. People have already begun to wonder the similarity, and dissimilarity, between Saddam's Iraq and Kim Jon Il's North Korea, and then how to cope with it. Deeper understanding of the situation would certainly help in finding better solutions, and more important, in avoiding destructive consequences.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications