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Japan Considers Getting Offensive

Prime Minister Abe Attends Naval Fleet Review

A new defense paper published by Japan’s government today urges Tokyo to set up a rapid marine deployment force to counter threats to its territory and acquire offensive weapons, like surveillance drones and missiles that could strike enemy bases. Shinzo Abe’s government is clearly trucking on with plans to revamp Japan’s military and even considering changing the pacifist constitution, under which some of these new capabilities are questionable.

The paper pushes the limits of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which 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….[L]and, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” The paper says that Japan has the right to launch preemptive attacks if threatened and urges Tokyo to establish comprehensive defense measures in order to protect Japan’s distant islands from attack.

“It would be a big deal, a fundamental change in our defense philosophy,” a security studies professor told the New York Times. It will surely annoy China and other neighbors who resent Japan’s new aggressive foreign policy.

One group of countries it probably won’t annoy is in Southeast Asia. Prime Minister Abe is currently in Singapore, where he met with ASEAN leaders (and Vice President Biden) and spoke of deepening Japan’s economic and security ties with its neighbors to the south. Japanese companies’ investment in Southeast Asia has exploded this year as China has become a less attractive business partner. Abe also vowed to join the Philippines to promote stability in East and Southeast Asia.

China is facing a changing Asian security landscape with Japan, which is now led by a popular, hawkish prime minister; building up its military for the first time in a decade; and shoring up alliances, partly as a result of Chinese aggression in territorial disputes and aggressive posturing by the Norks. No wonder Beijing publicly pushed Pyongyang to reduce tension in the region by coming to the negotiation table earlier today. The last thing China wants is to give Japan and other neighbors a reason to rearm and the United States a justification to continue to be the region’s most dominant military force.

[Japanese warships photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • rheddles

    If Chinese communists can travel the capitalist road, why shouldn’t the Japanese take a stroll down the military?

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Power abhors a vacuum, and there has been a power vacuum in Japan since WWII. For the most part the US has filled this vacuum, but China is now looking to see if they can grab some of Japan’s power, and Japan is quite justly refusing to let them. I am happy to see Japan develop an offensive capability as this will stabilize things with a more realistic balance of power. Besides, Chinese aggression on all it’s boarders pisses me off, and I deeply desire to see them kicked in the teeth.

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