- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2003

Japan’s new rising sun

The Washington Times is correct to note that Japan is a changed country that would pose no aggressive threat to its neighbors (“Relaunching the Rising Sun,” Editorial, Wednesday).

In the decade before and during World War II, Japan was essentially run by military leaders who overruled a powerless parliament and a symbolic emperor. Japan’s population was largely agrarian and illiterate. The local farm economy was in shambles, and foreign nations controlled the raw materials Japan relied upon. Japan’s army was rife with an ultranationalistic officer corps that assassinated political enemies and fostered dreams of an Asia under Japanese domination. Hence, the military diverted Japan’s budget to military pursuits, recruiting eager young men from failed farms into a huge army that would launch a war of conquest, ultimately striking at the United States when President Roosevelt cut off Japan’s supplies of oil and scrap metal.

Contrast this old image with today’s Japan, a constitutional democracy with an educated voting public and an economy heavily dependent on multinational corporations and international trade. Should Japan remilitarize to dissuade potential emerging threats in East Asia, the officers of a new Japanese military would answer to politicians, families, businessmen and voters.

MARK JACOBS

Houston

Asbestos and insurers

Amy Ridenour is exactly on point when she described the proposed asbestos trust fund as a cure for the “asbestos liability crisis,” although she failed to add “for the insurance industry” (“Striking a deal,” Op-Ed, Tuesday).

Representatives of all the nation’s major insurance companies decided collectively and unanimously in 1977 to deny all liability for asbestos exposure. The minutes of their Manhattan meeting on April 21, 1977, are public record now, having been unearthed by plaintiff attorneys.

That decision was taken despite the fact that property and casuality policies had been sold profitably for decades to companies that mined, refined or used asbestos as a raw material. Insurers certainly knew better. The cancer risk of asbestos exposure has been understood for so long that, since at least the 1930s, life insurance companies have listed pleural diseases as a reason to deny life insurance or charge higher premiums.

The decision of the insurance industry to deny liability for asbestos exposure is responsible for many of the 60 or more bankruptcies Mrs. Ridenour cited. A company that discovers it paid premiums for years to an insurance company that refuses asbestos claims is in peril, indeed, although it may have a case against the insurer that knew the liability risks of asbestos but gave no warning.

PETER PAGE

Trenton, N.J.

Cartoon vindicated

Ed Kliman criticized Mallard Fillmore cartoonist Bruce Tinsley for including Verdun in a Memorial Day cartoon commemorating battles in which American servicemen died (“Cartoon short on facts,” Letters, Wednesday), noting that this battle took place a year before America entered the war, but it is Mr. Kliman who may not be correct. The battle of Verdun, fought in 1916, marked the first appearance of the famed Lafayette Escadrille, a group of volunteer airmen, including Americans, who flew and died in defense of France. Of the 269 who volunteered for service, 69 died. Many served subsequently with American forces after we entered the war.

In sum, Mr. Tinsley was correct in paying honor to those airmen, whose legacy is found today both in the U.S. Air Force and France’s Armee de l’Air.

DICK HALLION

Alexandria

Derail China’s space initiative

Robert S. Walker is quite correct to sound the alarm about China’s ambitions to extend its influence to the moon (“The race into space,” Op-Ed, Thursday). One wonders, though, if his response goes far enough.

It’s one thing to propose developing a lot of enabling technology, including nuclear propulsion and power, so that sometime in the future the United States can expand its influence beyond low Earth orbit. In order to respond to the Chinese challenge in space, however, we need to resolve sooner rather than later that we will use that technology.

Let us resolve, therefore, that if China proposes to send taikonauts to occupy the moon, American astronauts will be there to greet them. Let us build a settlement at the lunar south pole, perhaps with a new “coalition of the willing” consisting of countries such as India, Japan and friendly European powers, to make sure that China does not take sole possession of the future by becoming the first true space-faring power.

MARK R. WHITTINGTON

Houston

Confused by Sharon

I read with great interest your editorial attempting to interpret the recent statements of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (“Sharon’s surprising declaration, Thursday). As a citizen of Israel and a member of the Israeli right, I quite openly admit that Mr. Sharon has succeeded in totally confusing me.

While your guess is as good as mine as to what Mr. Sharon intends, I take particular exception to the statement, “If 10 years of the Oslo peace process (including 32 months of war) have achieved anything, it’s been to persuade virtually all Israelis, and the Israeli right in particular, of the need to share the land west of the Jordan River with an independent Palestinian state.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Israeli right — and that has come to include more than 70 percent of the Israeli voting public — is certain that there must not be a separate and autonomous Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. Such a state could only breed yet another generation of people bent on the destruction of Israel and perhaps even the destruction of the Jewish people, if recent atrocities worldwide are any indication.

The Israeli right realizes that a separate state would just continue to foster an additional totalitarian Arab entity in the region — a state kept together only by continuing to condone, preach and support the killing of innocent citizens in the most barbaric ways.

MICHAEL KARASH

Publisher

Makor Rishon

Israel’s only Hebrew-language neo-conservative newspaper

Jerusalem

Cardinal riles Catholic university

According to Friday’s Page One article “Criticism of gays riles Georgetown,” various and sundry elements at Georgetown University are upset at Cardinal Francis Arinze for stating in his commencement address that the family is “mocked by homosexuality.” As a result, apologies and explanations are being issued by the university.

It is rather absurd that anyone has to apologize when a cardinal of the Catholic Church supports and states Catholic teaching — at a purportedly Catholic institution.

The suggestion by some people at Georgetown that this is some quirk of conservative African Christianity is what is truly offensive. Perhaps folks there need to put the catechism of the Catholic Church on their reading lists?

THE REV. LEONARD F. VILLA

Yonkers, N.Y.

In reaction to Cardinal Francis Arinze’s three-word remark, the office of Jane McAuliffe, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will send a letter to mollify students and faculty, including a sizable homosexual contingent called GU Pride.

Why does Cardinal Arinze’s statement, which fully agrees with Catholic doctrine, merit such damage control by a supposedly Catholic institution? After all, past speakers at Georgetown have voiced opinions contrary to Catholic teaching — for example, on abortion and euthanasia — and no extraordinary effort was made to mollify those who undoubtedly were offended. Will Miss McAuliffe stand up for what God has said about these issues? (Note: She should read Romans 1:18-32.)

JOHN A. RUTT

St. Leonard, Md.

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