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PacNet #38 – Japan Battles Gulf War Ghosts

Memories of the Persian Gulf War have weighed heavily on Japanese policy-makers during the last two weeks. As the world reeled from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States, Japan’s leaders have acted with the knowledge that they failed to meet their ally’s expectations a decade ago and a similar failure could provide a body blow – perhaps even a fatal one – to an alliance that only weeks ago celebrated its 50th anniversary. That fear, along with Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro’s penchant for bold gestures, has prompted Japan to rise to the occasion and take action. But there is also the danger of over-reaction. Japan must join the fight against international terror – and it has much to contribute – but the country’s politicians must avoid over-reaching: the surest way to guarantee political paralysis is to exploit this horrific tragedy for political purposes.