GLOCOM Platform
debates Media Reviews Tech Reviews Special Topics Books & Journals
Summary Page
Search with Google
Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #277: February 1, 2005

What's Behind Japan's Defense Shift?

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

What's Behind Japan's Defense Shift?
Asia News Network (Straits Times), Korea Herald

Related Article:
Japan's Iraq Commitment Remains Lukewarm
(Shihoko Goto UPI), World Peace Herald


The article introduced above discusses seeming changes of Japan's attitude in the way its Self Defense Force (SDF) is utilized, and that certain aspects of the change may be annoying China and South Korea.

While very little is explained of the large scale rescue operation conducted by the SDF in Indonesia after the Tsunami in helping the wounded to recover and preventing outbreak of contagions, the article stresses the operation is the largest mission since World War II, and asserts that it represents more proof that Japan is shrugging out of its pacifist Constitution.

The article goes on to list Japan's recent moves and plans that could be considered un-pacifistic. Following are some points raised in the article, with comments by the reviewer immediately following in parentheses.

- Seek a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. (Wouldn't it be only natural and should even be welcomed for a country with the second largest economic strength and bearing 20% of the U.N. budget to be willing to play a larger role in the organization supposed to be seeking peace and prosperity to the whole world, instead of, utilizing its strength in developing nuclear arms and the means to carry them in the form of missiles and nuclear submarines, as in the case of some of Japan's neighboring countries such as China?)

- Beef up civilian control over the SDF to speed up response to threats, such as recent incursions into its territory by North Korean and Chinese vessels. (Isn't it prudent for the democratically elected government to exert its full effort in protecting its people from the historically proven to be unpredictable behaviors of totalitarian regimes with weapons possible to destroy people's lives and properties?)

- Develop jointly with the United States a missile defense system that will help ensure that any pre-emptive or retaliatory strikes will be struck down. (Would there be any legitimate regime or people in the world which sees anything wrong at all in this statement if this were a description of their own country? Then what is wrong there in case of Japan? Or is it the U.S. which makes this statement accusable? Would it be OK if the term U.S. were changed to, say, Russia?)

So much for the 'possiblity of' militaristic inclination of Japan. It is true that there are many in Japan who are skeptical of the significance of sending SDF to Iraq, but there is virtually no dissenting voice in in dispatching SDF to rescue the victims of the Tsunami, as Japanese people know from firsthand experience that the SDF is good at conducting rescue and relief operations in the scene of natural disasters.

The related article introduced above indeed reiterates such characteristics of the SDF. It explains that the SDF stationed in Iraq has not fired a bullet since it first arrived there, and cites a TV report describing, "Japanese soldiers continue to check the number of bullets in their guns each day to make sure not a single shot resounded." The article reports that the SDF has kept its promise of not getting involved in potentially dangerous missions, and as Iraqi voters headed to the ballots, Japanese troops remained in their camp instead of protecting voting stations as in the case of other foreign troops based in the country.

It is possible, as a new discovery even to some Japanese, that it could be in their blood for the SDF to avoid hostile conflicts, which, if indeed so, would be a good news for those aiming to overcome Japan, but makes Japanese people begin to wonder if they could protect us if, in case someone really attacks us.

bullet Top
Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications