News / Asia

Japan Mulls Security Reform, Prompting Chinese Anger

Japan Mulls Security Reform, Prompting Chinese Angeri
X
October 21, 2013 11:57 PM
Japan’s government says it plans to allow its self-defense forces to play a greater role in global security. Currently, Japan's ‘pacifist’ constitution -- written under American supervision after World War II -- allows the country's armed forces to be used only for defensive purposes to preserve national security. But Tokyo's current plans have prompted anger in China, which is engaged in a heated territorial dispute with Japan. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from Tokyo.
Henry Ridgwell
Japan’s government says it plans to allow its self-defense forces to play a greater role in global security. Currently Japan's ‘pacifist’ constitution, written under American supervision after World War II, allows the country's armed forces to be used only for defensive purposes to preserve national security. Tokyo's current plans have prompted anger in China, however, which is engaged in a heated territorial dispute with Japan.

On Friday under the glare of the media, a group of more than 100 Japanese lawmakers visited Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including several convicted war criminals.

The visit prompted anger in China. Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, "once again China urges Japan to abide by its commitment and promise to deeply examine history and take real measures to win the trust of Asian neighbors and the international community."

The tension comes as the two countries dispute the ownership of offshore islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

Opening a new session of Japan’s parliament last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made national security a central pillar of his policy reform.

Abe said Japan must not look away from the reality of an increasingly severe security situation in the region.

"I will proceed with a realistic security policy and diplomacy," he added.

Japan has developed what it terms "self-defense forces," but relies on its alliance with the United States for its overall security.

Nationalist author Hideaki Kase said that reliance, though, is out of date.

“We are now witnessing rising American isolationism. So we can no longer place 100 percent trust in U.S. willingness to defend us,” he said.

Compared to the U.S., China’s relative military power is expanding rapidly, said Shinichi Kitaoka, Japan's former ambassador to the U.N. and key advisor to Abe.

“Not only the rapid rise of their [China’s] military budget. Their activities are sometimes irregular, and it seems to us challenging to the status quo by force, which is very dangerous,” said Kitaoka.

Japanese warships are currently deployed in anti-piracy operations off Somalia. Should allied warships come under attack, Japan’s constitution forbids its forces from coming to their aid.

Kitaoka said Japan must re-interpret its constitution and lift the self-imposed ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense.

“If we have to respond to all the threats by individual effort alone, then we would probably have to have a big military," he said. "So the collective right of self-defense is not dangerous, rather it is a safer way to peace.”

But recent opinion polls show just half of Japanese voters favor revising the country's pacifist constitution, far less than the 90 percent of lawmakers who desire to do so.  
Tokyo resident Takako Tsuchida is among those who opposes changing the constitution. Tsuchida said she is 100 percent against all war.

"So if you change the constitution," she said, "I worry that there’s a possibility that war would happen again, so that’s why I’m against it."

Abe insists that allowing Japan to play a greater role in global security, however, will promote regional peace. But fear persists among its neighbors that Japan has yet to heed the lessons of its past.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Atlas from: Canada
October 22, 2013 4:46 PM
@Ian If Japan wants to arm itself but bringing US in this conflict showing Japan is lying and using China as an excuse to expand to its military power. Don't forget Abe is from a WWII famous war criminal family and his record is trying to deny all the WWII crimes that they committed: comfort women, mass killing, using chemical weapons, changing shool text...
All these showing is heading to extreme right. Watch out the this evil army return.

by: Atlas from: Canada
October 22, 2013 10:50 AM
Now Japan is heading to extreme right and bring back the imperial army. This is a shame to Japan going this direction. Abe does not need to reform security as Japan is protected by US and Abe using China as an excuse to expand its imperial army. Why? He is one of the famous WWII war criminal family member. Still want to bring back the glory of the evil army.

Talking peace but worship the evil imperial Japan army symbol shrine. Abe claimed himself as an extreme right now offering to the war shrine, the famous WWII criminals burying there. It is an insult to all the victims. Unable to repent to what they did in WWII war crimes and try to hide them. Shame to Abe and watch out the evil returns.
In Response

by: Atlas from: Canada
October 24, 2013 3:19 PM
@Vic When Abe got in power, no body thinks he is an extreme right wing as he admitted in UN. Now, Abe is from the famous WWII war criminal family Nobusuke Kishi who is Abe grand parent showing he is in favor of return imperial Japan army. Why? He denied the comforted women, denied Tokyo Trial, denied mass killing .... All are committed by the evil imperial army in WWII and Abe still says it is not commited even with true edvience. Don't be fool by this cunning fox.
In Response

by: Vic from: US
October 24, 2013 2:41 AM
Atlas, according to the news article, it didn't say that Japan is going back to Imperial Army. It said that they currently have islands dispute with China and they need to protect themselves by building a up-to-date military units for self defense. Also they are not sure if the US will come in aid, if China and Japan gets into war. You need to read the article very well before you can come up with their own theory that is not relevant at all.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
October 22, 2013 1:35 PM
Because the US is financially so heavily in debt to China, I doubt if any countries can rely on it to help if they are to be attacked by China.
Japan should have the right to the arm itself , why should Japan gamble with its security relying on somebody else's promise of protection (Remember in the past, when the US courting China, it abandoned South Vietnam & dropped Taiwan like a couple sack of sad potatoes)

by: No tonsul from: Japan
October 22, 2013 9:29 AM
This article feels not neutral but so 'left' in Japan now. I think Henry Ridgwell may feel sympathy to China or be taught it by anti-authority Japanese.

by: hb from: Beijing
October 22, 2013 12:00 AM
First, beat China; then USA.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
October 22, 2013 1:23 PM
Actually, many countries in the region starts to feel the heat not from Japan but China, whose actions are pretty aggressive lately. So I would think we can rephrase the real sentiment from the point of the chinese government's think tank
"first beat Japan, then USA in the not too far future"

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs