Sunday, May 31, 2009

Japan to once again become a military power?

The Asia Times reports:

TOKYO - An increasingly belligerent North Korea is reawaking hawkish sentiments in Japan, still one of the world's most powerful nations and equipped with ultra-modern weaponry.

Prompted by Pyongyang's recent provocations - including an underground nuclear test, short-range missile launches and a long-range missile test - normally pacifist Japan is considering acquiring the capability to make pre-emptive strikes to destroy enemy bases, such as those in North Korea.

More than a few government officials and lawmakers have reservations about making the leap, as it would be a huge departure from Japan's exclusively defense-oriented, post-World War II policy. The strong pacifism enshrined in the United Stated-imposed "peace constitution" would be a thing of the past.

The Japanese government, led by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is applying the finishing touches to plans that would enable the Japanese military to to carry out pre-emptive strikes against enemy states as part of the new National Defense Program Guidelines for fiscal years 2010 to 2014, to be compiled by the end of this year.

Studying international relations as an undergrad, I spent very, very little time every looking at the Korea problem. But it strikes me as something we really should spend a little bit of time worrying about. Not because North Korea will ever actually use its nuclear weapons (they're more of a security bargaining chip), but because their nuclear mobilization will cause South Korea and Japan to become highly militarized; and militarization will cascade across the region.

Japan is the pacifist country, and to see them go down this road would be very sad.