Japan lifts long-standing restriction to allow further defense buildup: NPR
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TOKYO — Japan has made a significant policy change to allow it to gain the ability to attack other nations, a move widely seen as an important step toward rearming the nation more than seven decades since it was demilitarized after World War II.
As Japan’s relations with China worsen and the perceived threat from its much larger neighbor increases, the Japanese government on Friday gave the green light to proposals it has been debating sporadically since at least 1956.
Japan had avoided obtaining attack capabilities, so as not to violate Japan’s postwar. Constitutionwho renounces the right —and the means— to wage war and not provoke their neighbors.
At a press conference after the documents were released, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida argued that Japan must keep pace with other nations’ advances in missile technology.
“In such a harsh environment,” he said, “the ability to counterattack, which can deter an attack or force an enemy to stop one, is an ability that will become increasingly vital.”
The move follows years of efforts by the United States to persuade Japan to take more responsibility for its own defense, particularly as a bulwark against China’s growing military might and threats against Taiwan.
In a statement, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called the change “a bold and historic step to strengthen and defend the free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused Tokyo of “exalting the ‘China threat’ to find an excuse for its military buildup.”
The policy is outlined in reviews of three national security strategy documents. The document also asks increase defense spending to about 2% of gross domestic product by 2027, after decades of being capped at 1%.
The money would be used to import. missiles of the United States, as Tomahawk cruise missiles, capable of reaching North Korea and parts of China. Japan also plans to develop its own weapons, including advanced fighter aircraft, hypersonic missiles Y armed drones. Japanese media reported on some of the purchase plans, citing the nation’s defense ministry. Japanese politicians are debating Where will the money come from to finance the increase?
It is the biggest change in Japan’s defense policy since his cabinet. reinterpreted the constitution in 2014 to allow the military to fight in support of an ally under attack.
Japan’s ruling party has long wanted to amend the Constitution to remove restrictions on his military, but has been unable to muster enough public support.
The government insists that Japan’s defense policies will remain strictly defensive and that the country will not threaten other nations or carry out pre-emptive strikes, in violation of international law.
Perceived foreign threats are driving change
While the change has been encouraged for years by Japan’s main ally, the United States, perceived threats are what seem to be driving the policy change primarily. Security documents name China, its military buildup and tensions with Taiwan, as top threats.
Also mentioned are North Korea’s expanding nuclear and missile arsenal and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Center show most Japanese now agree that the country needs to have attack capability.
Former defense officer Kyoji Yanagisawa is one of the few dissenting voices. He believes that the missiles will not deter potential adversaries, and that Japan would be better off investing in diplomacy to avoid war.
“To have a deterrent, we should have the ability to almost completely neutralize the enemy’s missiles, but we don’t have that,” he argues. “Not only are we missing a deterrent, we will also provoke a counterattack” from an enemy.
The legal details are murky
Since Japan has more and more indicated it will come to the aid of Taiwan and work with the US, if China launches an invasion of Taiwan, it is possible that the military bases in the Japanese territories will be attacked.
Official discussions suggest that Japan could launch a counterattack with missiles after being hit, or attack enemy bases or command facilities when the missiles are about to be launched at Japan.
But hitting enemies you think are about to attack you could be legally shady.
“We only know if an attack is preemptive or not,” and legal or not, “after it is carried out,” he argues. yasuo hasebe, an expert in constitutional law at Waseda University in Tokyo. However, he adds, Japan’s government can successfully argue that simply owning the guns as a deterrent without using them is in line with the constitution.
However, Hasebe adds, “the government insists it’s constitutional. So it’s hard to debate this point.”
Japan’s government has not explained how the change would fit with the constitution, and so far there has been little challenge from civil society, the media, the courts or opposition parties.
What this means for Washington
Zack Cooper, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, said that Japan is about to spend a lot of money to acquire capabilities that the US already brings to the US-Japan alliance.
One reason for this overlap, he said, is concern about the return of former President Donald Trump, who downplayed the value of America’s traditional alliances, or someone like him.
“I think there are many in Tokyo who are saying, ‘Look, we can’t be 100% sure where the United States will be in terms of the alliance five, 10, 15 years from now,'” he said. .
One lesson that observers say Japan has taken of Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion is that the more a nation takes the initiative to defend itself, the more it motivates allies to come to its aid.
Chie Kobayashi contributed to this Tokyo report.