Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Japan's pacifism 'needs revision'

Gen Toshio Tamogami - Pic Australian Defence Department
Gen Toshio Tamogami has rekindled a long-running row

Japan's former air force chief has said the country should revise its pacifist constitution.

Gen Toshio Tamogami, recently sacked for denying that Japan was an aggressor in World War II, was giving evidence to a parliamentary enquiry.

Japan's constitution was written after the country's defeat in 1945 and promises the country's will never again engage in a war.

Some Japanese nationalists believe this compromises the country's status.

Gen Tamogami was called to a parliamentary enquiry to defend the essay which got him sacked last month.

The essay argued that many Asian countries "take a positive view" of Japan's past militarism, seeing it as a bulwark against Western imperialism.

He had written: "It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation."

His views were immediately repudiated by China, and by the Japanese government.


Called upon to explain himself in a parliamentary enquiry, Gen Tamogami restated his views, saying he did not think he was wrong in any way.

He said his essay was "necessary in order for Japan to head in the right direction".

"Freedom of speech should be guaranteed, even for Self Defence Force personnel," he said, using the official name for Japan's military.

He said that Japan was a victim of war that was ensnared into battle by the United States.

And he told politicians the constitution should be reviewed.

Most other countries say Japan started the war in East Asia by invading neighbouring countries, including China and Korea, and by bombing American ships at Pearl Harbour.

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