News

    Japan's Evolving Military

    After fighting and defeating Japan in World War Two, the United States occupied the country and imposed a constitution forbidding it ever to go to war again. Article nine of Japan's constitution states "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

    With this prohibition, Japan has remained a pacifist country for over 60 years. According to Thomas Berger, associate professor of International Relations at Boston University, most Japanese citizens appear largely content with this military limitation.

    Mr. Berger says, "there is still a certain degree of reservation about defense. The Japanese are not about to become the British of the Far East. There is a lingering discomfort having to do with Japan's historical experiences of the use of military force as an instrument of pursuing foreign policy goals. The Japanese don't trust their own armed forces and are not convinced to the same extent we are that the military is a useful means of pursuing international interests."

    However, many analysts believe opinion may be changing in Japan. More people seem willing to challenge the pacifist stance and seek to play a bigger role in the world arena. Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation says nationalism is reviving in Japan in response to some of its neighbors' activities.

    "Clearly, what is fueling this kind of new nationalism and to some degree a new comfort with military development is they see North Korea misbehaving," says Mr. Clemons. "They see uncertainty about North Korea's nuclear program, and they see China spending a huge amount of money each year on rebuilding its own military capacity. One of the things that China is doing which is very important is that in the next decade and a half, it is going to rebuild its entire navy and turn it into a deep water navy as opposed to a shallow water navy that can go anywhere in the world."

    Mr. Clemons says Japan feels the pressure from its neighbors and is keeping a close eye on them. Amending article nine of the constitution is now high on Japan's political agenda.

    Mr. Berger also emphasizes Japanese uneasiness with North Korea.

    "The Japanese feel in a way that they haven't since World War Two," says Mr. Berger. "They feel threatened, and the main source of that threat is from North Korea. North Korea within the space of the last decade has done a lot of things which the Japanese find highly provocative: firing missiles over Japan, the revelation of the discovery of North Korean spy ships that come to Japan, the revelation that North Korean agents have kidnapped Japanese citizens. All of these things are bringing home to the Japanese public in a way that wasn't true of the past that the international environment remains a dangerous place that Japan needs to do something about."

    After the 1946 constitution was established, Japan needed to rely on the United States for its ultimate security. Now both countries are having second thoughts. The United States is pressuring Japan to get more involved in international affairs. Like Japan, it worries about China's growing ambitions and armaments. China's on-and-off again threats against Taiwan are another cause for concern.

    For these reasons, says Mr. Clemons, the United States is doing considerable nudging.

    Mr. Clemons says, "America is trying to help Japan mature as a nation and trying to help Japan understand that to pursue things like a seat on the United Nations Security Counsel. Japan needs to get beyond its old anachronistic pacifism that is not realistic in a complex and messy world. It wants to help Japan move forward. So we have been trying to help Japan take more internationally prominent positions."

    For a country that does not fight, Japan has the world's fourth largest defense budget--after the United States, China and France. Much of this is due to new powerful high-tech weaponry that may intimidate without being used.

    Similarly, since the early 1990's, Japan has sent troops on eight UN-led peace-keeping missions where they have not fired a shot. The 600 Japanese troops currently in Iraq are supposed to be involved in a non-combat role, says Mr. Clemens, and that reflects Japanese forces elsewhere in the world.

    Mr. Clemons says, "Japan has a small contingent of self defense forces stationed in doing various things related to rebuilding civil infrastructure in Iraq. They deployed mine sweepers; they are taking more responsibility for naval air intelligence, watching the Taiwan Strait and around the shipping lanes in Asia. What is important is Japan's military capacity. Its ships, its airplanes, its intelligence capacity and its spy satellites. It has deployed five spy satellites in the last several years. All of this military capacity is designed to work in partnership with the United States, its primary ally."

    Still, the Japanese troops in Iraq are close to guerrilla warfare and could get involved. If so, that would be the first such encounter since World War Two--and quite probably not the last. For better or worse, Japan would reenter military combat.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmarki
    X
    John Owens
    June 26, 2016 2:04 PM
    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora