Unleash Japan

An American team put together after World War II wrote the Japanese Constitution, imposing pacifism as state policy. That was understandable 50 years ago. Now the constraints of the Japanese Constitution – and the Japanese attitudes that have preserved them – are senseless anachronisms, says Rich Lowry, editor of National Review.

The ideal should be to make Japan as reliable a partner of the United States in Asia as Britain is in Europe. The alliance is a natural, says Lowry:

  • Japan broadly shares American values.

  • The United States is the world's No. 1 economy, and Japan is No. 2, a powerful combination.

  • The U.S. wants to check China, and Japan feels threatened by China.

  • Japan provides the basing the United States needs at a time when it has lost its bases in the Philippines and its relationship with South Korea looks shaky.

    Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is the main obstacle strengthening the U.S. alliance and loosening the more restrictive post-war constraints. The constitution – and the interpretations and policies arising from it – bans a standing army, collective self-defence and arms exports.

  • Japan has a military, but it's called a Self-Defence Force, and it's supposed to be limited to territorial defence.

  • For a long time, it denied itself refuelling capacity for its F-4 fighters, since that was considered too "offensive" in nature.

  • The prohibition on collective self-defence means that Japan cannot come to the aid of an ally – i.e., the United States – when attacked; the interpretation of this prohibition has prevented even routine U.S.-Japanese co-operation.

    But it is a new Japanese government, with new norms, in a new time, says Lowry.

    Source: Rich Lowry, Unleash Japan, Jewish World Review, July 12, 2005.

    For text: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0705/lowry.php3

    For more on Security Commitments: http://www.ncpa.org/iss/nat/

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 19 July 2005
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