Beginning with the end of World War II, Japan’s constitution was written to significantly diminish its ability to take part in military conflicts world-wide. Article 9 recognizes that war is renounced as a sovereign rate of the country to resolve external, international conflicts. This document, one which has become as much a part of Japanese culture as it has today’s political reality, is changing.
Japanese lawmakers voted 148-90 to ease the wording of Article 9, to permit limited defense for allies in international conflicts. This includes the ability to put boots on the ground, as well as defend the interests of allies outside of Japan. This transition, from one which traditionally saw the Japanese forces limited to humanitarian aid, enters a new era for Japan and its military.
Known as the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF), the name of the military even defines its role. In the last few years though, international activities have created a need to relook at the role of national self-defense to recognize some of the larger threats that are cropping up.
The last few months has seen China take a larger military role in the South China Sea, claiming territories that are openly disputed by Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Brunei. Their seizing of an island, and introduction of military forces to defend it, has created a large barrier to peaceful local relations.
On September 15th, North Korea again threatened the use of nuclear weapons at any time against the United States. While this has been a persistent threat from North Korea, the fact that they are neighboring countries and the short distance from Japan to North Korea poses a significant threat both militarily and economically should another conflict occur.
Japan is a logical point strategically within the peninsula as it provides standoff from the direct fight that could occur between North and South Korea, while also enabling the buildup of combat power. Whether it be Japan, or another nation, the location of Japan is incredibly important.
Theoretically, the new constitutional understanding could mean that if a conflict would erupt between allies, Japan could be used as this staging ground for men, weapons, and equipment that would flow either from Japan or its allies. Given the range and distance between countries in the region, it could prove to be an incredibly important ally for the future.
The application of the new constitution also acts as a further deterrent for those countries which would wish to provoke regional destabilization while writing off the Japanese military. This affords Japan the opportunity to respond both politically, economically, and militarily to protect their interests locally and abroad. This deterrent may create the dynamics which help to delay a conflict and allow cooler minds to prevail.
Not all are happy with the decisions by the Japanese government, and they have plenty of room for concern. Japanese history is one which many cannot overlook. The shadow of World War II is still visible within the country, and many people hope that the country will never return to a time that brings pain and shame to the people. We can only hope the Japanese government will choose wisely how they will participate in regional and international conflicts in the future.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.