Japan’s National Defense Policy Guidelines, due to be unveiled this month, signal a historic refocusing of the nation’s army.
Japan is poised to shift toward a more assertive military stance involving new advanced weaponry, boosted cooperation with its ally nations, and deployable rapid-response units, Japanese media announced on Monday. Tokyo has considered such a sweeping shift for some time, but rising tensions with China and North Korea have injected new urgency into the discussions.
In the aftermath of World War ii, Japan vowed to “forever renounce war” and, in 1946, America wrote Japan’s postwar “peace” constitution which includes Article 9, a law forbidding Tokyo the “threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”
But many Japanese citizens want to see an end to Japan’s pacifist constitution, and the new proposal is a lunge in that direction.
Japanese media reports say the updated defense program guidelines, scheduled for release this month, will increase the country’s submarine fleet from 16 to 22, add advanced fighter jets to the air force, and will relocate troops from the faded northern threat of Russia to the intensifying threat of China to Japan’s south. The plan also calls for a review of Japan’s three non-nuclear principles, for a lifting of the nation’s arms export bans, and for defensive alliances with the U.S., India, Australia and South Korea.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that, although Beijing’s military spending is increasing at a startling rate, the strategy is not aimed at China. “To organize our own defense capabilities is something that our country certainly needs to do. This does not directly link to posing a threat to another country,” Kan said. But the criticism that Kan endured in September for his weak response to a Chinese trawler deliberately ramming into a Japanese coastguard ship suggests otherwise.
All the way back in 1971, Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of the Trumpet’s forerunner magazine, said, “Japan today has no military establishment. Some United States forces are still there. But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly.”
Even before the newest military shifts, Japan has moved starkly in that direction. Today, Japan is home to the second-largest navy in the world, and one of the top five military arsenals on the globe.As the current trends persist, Japan’s military will continue to expand, and it will look less and less like a “self-defense” force.