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John Wayne's Holster: Japan’s Sovereign Right to Self Defense
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Japan’s Sovereign Right to Self Defense

Following the surrender of the Japenese in WWII, the Allied Occupation, led by the United States, drew up a new constitution for Japan. The goal of the constitution was to replace Japan's imperial system with a liberal democracy. As part of the Constitution (Article 9), Japan was required to renounce war forever.

Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, 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.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Some, including many Japanese, believe that the situation requires a change. Certainly times and the world have changed dramatically over the past 60 years.

Even under the new constitution, Japan has maintained a so-called Self-Defense Force. The goal of the SDF is a purely defensive one. What is currently being debated is just exactly constitutes a “defensive” action.

The nature of the threats affecting Japan have certainly changed, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Today, China and North Korea (and to a lesser extent Russia) represent the major regional threats to Japan. All of these countries possess nuclear capabilities. It should also be mentioned that China, and North Korea in particular, are destablizing factors in international relations with East Asia - which represents about 20% of the global GDP.

There are also other very real concerns posed by rapid globalization. Now formerly remote threats can spread rapidly around the world. Such threats include terrorism by failed states, disruption of sea lines of communication, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Since 1947, the United States military has acted as Japan’s defender. With the United States military actively engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq – and perhaps soon in Iran or other regions, it is reasonable to assume that the US Military may be stretched too thin to provide adequate defense to Japan.

As such, it is Japan’s best interest to begin to assume more of its own defensive responsibilities. That will require an constitutional change under Japanese law, but in reality, the situation has already begun to change.

Over the past 10 or so years, Japan has undertaken a massive military build-up. Japan currently has one of the world’s most formidable blue-water navies. Her fleet is considered by many to be on par with the US 7th fleet. Japan's Maritime Defense Force includes over 50 advanced destroyers, including four Aegis-class destroyers equipped with missile defense systems. In addition, Japan has four escort flotillas with helicopters.

Japan also possesses or is developing an extensive missile defense system. In addition to the destroyers mentioned above, the Japan Defense Agency will have at least 16 Patriot Missile systems by 2010. In addition, Japan has or will have 11 radar systems, including four FPS advanced radar sytems.

Its air defenses are also quite formidable. Japan currently has 117 advanced F-15 fighters (second only in numbers to the US), a similar number of F-4 fighters, 74 F-1 fighters, troop and equipment transports, and advanced surveillance (EWAC) aircraft.

Some have questioned the necessity of maintaining such a large and formidable defense forces, but in light of recent events, particularly in the China and North Korea (I am presently preparing an article on this topic), Japan has little choice if she is to maintain her sovereignty and security.


At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Roy said...

It seems silly to me that this even needs to be discussed. Japan must exercise its right to self-defense. When I hear people claim otherwise I cringe. The world has changed drastically since WWII and Japan needs to change with it.

At 2:44 AM, Anonymous brad said...

for once I agree with roy


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