JAPAN’S SHINZO ABE REMOVING CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS TO JAPANESE REARMAMENT
Japan changes constitution to allow military to fight abroad for first time since 1945
Now let’s put this in a long-term context.
You’ll recall that prior to the Fukushima tragedy and the ongoing disaster, there was a change in the Japanese government as for the first time since the end of the War, a new Japanese government came to power, one less intent on fulfilling its role as an American satrapy, and one which was trying to mend fences with China. That government began quietly floating the idea of state visits of the Emperor, and quietly but politely indicated that it would like the USA to close its Okinawa military base. You’ll recall as well that the then US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, issued statements to Japan that could be taken as little more than a threat to back off from its course of actions or there would be dire consequences. Then, Fukushima occurred, and to this day, many suspect that it was a deliberate event. I too, incline often to this suspicion.
In any case, we now have the government of Mr. Abe.
And it is clear that Japan, while not exactly returning to its role of compliant satrapy, is playing second violin to Washington’s “Pacific Pivot” and acting in “collective security” with the USA.
That at least, is the cover story.
But there are some paragraphs that are worthy of close examination in this article:
“The decision by Mr Abe’s cabinet, which had long been expected, changes a more than six-decade-old reading of the constitution, which had strictly limited Japan’s forces to acting solely in its own defence. The new interpretation, known as “collective self-defence,” will allow Japan to use its large and technologically advanced military in ways that would have been unthinkable for this long-pacifist nation just a few years ago, such as coming to the aid of an American ship under fire, or shooting down a ballistic missile aimed at the United States.
…“Still, most Japanese seemed to at least tentatively accept the change, a sign, analysts said, of the growing anxiety here over China’s rising military might, and its increasingly forceful claims to disputed islands now controlled by Japan. They said these fears of China had made the public more willing to accept the more assertive security stance espoused by Mr Abe, who has long called for Japan to shed its postwar passivity and become a “normal” nation.…“Rather, he said the change was necessary for Japan to act more like a full-fledged ally of the United States, something Japan needs to start doing as it seeks a clearer show of American support in its territorial dispute with China.“’A strengthened Japan-United States alliance is a force of deterrence that contributes to the peace of Japan and this region,’ Mr Abe said. He also said the change would allow Japan to participate more fully in United Nations peacekeeping operations, such as by allowing Japanese troops to come to the aid of other peacekeepers under attack. …
“While Mr Abe focused his comments on closer ties with the United States, Japan’s postwar protector, analysts said the new policy could also make it easier for Japan to seek new military alliances with other nations including the Philippines and Vietnam, which have similar territorial disputes with China.
“Analysts also said the decision capped a series of security-related changes by the Abe government that had already gone a long way in freeing Japan to play a larger military role in the region. These included lifting a self-imposed ban on selling weapons abroad, starting Japan’s first military aid to foreign countries since the end of World War II and improving its ability to respond to a security crisis with the creation of a new National Security Council, modelled on the American one.”
Japan was, of course, Allied with the Entente Powers during World War One, but that military might “changed sides” prior to World War Two. And Japan is now much more powerful economically than in either of the World Wars. It’s Self Defense Force (remember folks, that’s what the word Wehrmacht also means), are, as the article notes, both large and the technological equal of any great power, including the USA.
So what’s going on, perhaps, between the lines of the article? What might high octane speculation make of it?
First, I suspect that Abe’s goal is not only to lift the ban on the use of Japanese troops abroad, but also that the real goal here is to lift the constitutional prohibitions against the expenditure on military forces beyond a certain percentage or threshold of Japan’s GNP. In effect, re-militarization might be seen as a means of reviving Japan’s powerful but flagging economy. But secondly, I suspect that behind the scenes, the real motivation here is that Japan is being less forthright about ts real concern: the USA, and the increasingly counter-intuitive nature of its global agenda. A dubious and out of control ally is, if one thinks about it, as much of a security concern as the growing economic and military power of China, and as the article also notes, re-militarization would allow Japan to pursue a more vigorous diplomacy in the region, and do so independently, of the USA, with nations concerned about the rise of China. It would also thus conceivably be a diplomatic card that Japan could play to gain bi-lateral agreements with the BRICSA nations, including China.
This is high octane speculation, of course. But there is one measure that will ultimately tell if it is a viable reading, and that is if Japan(and Germany of course), should seek and insist on a permanent seat with veto power on the UN Security Council. Germany has been quietly pursuing such an objective ever since the Wiedervereinigung, and one should expect a similar pressure slowly and quietly to emerge from Japan. But Security Council permanent seats or not, Japan has signaled that it is re-entering the world of Great Power Realpolitik, and notwithstanding the public statements of support from Washington, privately, my wager is that there are justifiable concerns, just as there are in Beijing.