Japan: a war waging country?
US intentions, policies, and strategies lie behind the current movement towards the revision of Article 9 within Japan.
The United States, parallel to continuing its war on terror, is implementing its global reorganization and reallocation of its military bases. Since the late 1990’s, the responsibility of the US military forces in Japan has expanded to the whole of Asia Pacific, and post 9.11, has brought the Middle East into range. Despite Article 9, Japan’s SDF provided support for the US military in its operations against Afghanistan in 2001. In 2003, the SDF were deployed to Iraq. Cooperation in the development of weapons, such as the missile defense system, has also been underway between the United States and Japan.
In this context, the United States has been pressuring Japan for more comprehensive military cooperation and partnership.
Japan is in a military alliance with the United States, but as a country with a provision renouncing war and the maintenance or use of military force, has maintained a principle prohibiting the exercising of its right to collective self-defense. For those interested in furthering the military collaboration between the US and Japan, they would like to see this principle gone. As a matter of fact, most of the revisionists of Article 9 argue for the elimination of Section 2 of Article 9, and enabling Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense. The corporate sector, with its interest in pursuing joint developments with and weapons export to the United States, also supports the revision of Article 9.
Voices Supporting the Amendment of Article 9 in Japan and the United States
“Japan’s restrictions on its right to collective self-defense are a constraint on its alliance cooperation. Lifting this prohibition would allow for closer and more efficient security cooperation.”
October 2000, Institute for National Strategic Studies report “The US and Japan: Advancing Toward a Mature Partnership” (Armitage Report)
“The inability to exercise our right to collective self-defense translates into denying supportive activity to our allies, and is acting as a hindrance.”
For Japan to change Article 9 is equivalent to making a country which can wage war alongside the United States.
With such developments, how will Japan’s neighboring countries react? It is not difficult to expect a revamping of their military, as Japan may be seen as a threat. If an arms race should be accelerated in East Asia, it would elicit a security dilemma, and in effect threatening the security of all countries in the region, including Japan’s own. Maintaining Article 9 and working towards demilitarization through building trust in the whole of the Asia Pacific region is the most realistic and reliable step in ensuring peace and security.