Japan won’t “just sit and wait for its own death”

North Korea’s increasingly bellicose demeanor, a second nuclear weapons test, various short and long range missile tests have prompted some unusually aggressive policy measures from Japan. Via Asia Times:
<blockquote>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.

The 12-page summary of proposals made by a subcommittee of the LDP’s defense policy-making panel on May 26 argue that Japan could use sea-launched cruise missiles in pre-emptive strikes against a hostile nation’s missile sites, having first detected launch preparations in that enemy state with surveillance satellites. The proposals are expected to be officially finalized on June 3.

Japan would not be forced to “just sit and wait for its own death”, read the document obtained by Asia Times Online. Such measures would have to remain “within the scope of Japan’s defense-only policy,” it continued, stressing that the pre-emptive strikes could be used to prevent an imminent attack.

In response to a lawmaker’s question as to whether Japan has right to launch pre-emptive strikes against missile sites after detecting launch preparations in an enemy state with a spy satellite, Prime Minister Taro Aso said: “As long as it is evident that there are no other measures, striking the enemy’s missile bases is guaranteed under the Constitution. It falls within the scope of self-defense. It’s different from pre-emptive attacks.”</blockquote>

You have to wonder how sustainable this technique of shoehorning contingencies into the constrictions of Japan’s constitution will be. Consider the recent reports of an impending North Korean ICBM test some time in mid June. At some point, should North Korea continue this tantrum of military showmanship, Japan will likely consider measures well beyond their “pacifist” constitution. The assertions of former air force chief, Toshio Tamogami, once seen as extreme or taboo, may well find teeth in the Japanese mainstream.

While the concept of Japan beginning a program of militarization that befits a 21st century power may serve a “kick in the ass” to the Chinese regarding North Korea, it could also alter the regional construct of military primacy in an unfavorable fashion. In short, too aggressive a measure could cause China to simply latch onto and even enable North Korea in an effort to meet what they deem to be a challenge to their regional military supremacy. Japan’s nascent military resurgence as described by the LDP defense policy is the first step on a geopolitical tightrope that attempts to balance the threat of North Korea with a historically troubled relationship with China.
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5 Responses to Japan won’t “just sit and wait for its own death”

  1. Curzon says:

    Mutantfrog had a good conversation in the comments on this recently, although more focused on Japan having a nuclear capability, not an offensive capability:
    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/05/28/krauthammer-on-japan-nukes/

  2. Bob Harrison says:

    Japan has among the most sophisticated launch vehicles in the world (H-2 rocket I think) which for the time being are used for peaceful space exploration purposes. Japan is also sitting on top of the worlds largest pile of plutonium, a byproduct of their nuclear energy industry which is the largest in the world (save for France and the USA).
    If they decided to, they could build nuclear warheads, weaponize them and put them on top of their peaceful rockets and have a nuclear arsenal more powerful and sophisticated than China’s.
    Of course it would take one hell of a provocation to get the only victims of nuclear warfare to follow this path. The real question is: what would it take?
    I imagine they would have to seriously doubt the strength or commitment of the USA’s nuclear umbrella in the face of a belligerent threat.
    Meanwhile Obama talks about nuclear disarmament….

  3. CZ, thanks, read it and commented.

    Bob Harrison, I would argue what would it cost (in realms beyond simple currency?) And is that cost manageable? I think my comment at mutantfrog (follow Curzon’s link) might address your comment here.

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