national

Japan eyes first-strike capability, Marines in defense policy update

54 Comments
By Linda Sieg

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

54 Comments
Login to comment

It's about time! Japan needs to have the legal capability to defend it's allies if they are under attack, and being an island nation have an amphibious offensive capability available if any foreign nation attacks and takes over any of it's territory.

It's time that Japan takes a more equal partnership in it's alliance with the USA.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

A review could be a step to change the military power but I wonder if it is more than politics. A real change is not likely to have enough political support unless something more threatening happens in the geographical surrounding. So is it a start up for change or just windowdressing to avoid political tensions within the ranks. Hmm maybe the review could stir things up and create the necessary tensions and then the next step... Na Abe couldnt be that shrewd.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is no such thing as a preemptive strike on the military level. You hit first or invade first then you are the aggressor.

Its really quite simple. But I know the war hawks are going to hem and haw, and dream that they somehow have the magic ability to predict an imminent attack.

-5 ( +11 / -16 )

Better to have the capability when it's needed than to not have it at all!

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Abe's first, careful step to creating the fascist ultra right wing Japan he envisions.

Those who couldn't be bothered to tear themselves away from the TV or nomihodai or whatever they were doing and go and vote last Sunday are going to live to regret their apathy.

1 ( +13 / -12 )

Defense ministry, please clarify to the public what you would consider an imminent threat?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

It's about time! Japan needs to have the legal capability to defend it's allies if they are under attack

Hahaha. Are you trying to portray this start of a new arms race as an altruistic gesture? Does Japan have any allies that need it to defend them? All the countries nearby don't exactly like Japan, and its main ally, the USA, certainly doesn't need military help to defend itself (although they would like someone else to bear some of the costs of standing up to China in East Asia).

Of course, in theory, Japan should have the same right to arm itself as any other country. However, I have absolutely zero faith that Japan will ever have the kind of level-headed, charismatic, and reliable politicians needed to harness and control a major military/industrial complex. With many more decades of economic/population/social decline looking inevitable for Japan, I think this arms race could become the main way that Japanese politicians think they can retain the country's dignity...

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Are you trying to portray this start of a new arms race as an altruistic gesture?

You are confusing the two issues I see. Currently Article 9 of the constitution prevents the JSDF from coming to the aid of an ally if they were attacked. They would have to stand by and do nothing, by giving them this capability it puts them on more even footing in their alliances.

The arms race that you refer to is something different, however to beef up the SDF to a full military is going to take time, money, training and equipment. It would be good for them to plan for it and put it into action prior to their needing it.

Not just in theory but practice.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

You are confusing the two issues I see

Boosting military capacity is boosting military capacity. There is only one issue here. It makes no difference whether or not you use some smokescreen to explain it or not.

Of course, from the broader perspective, this wouldn't be happening if the USA didn't want it to be happening, and the motives for the USA allowing this to happen and the LDP/Japanese rightwingers wanting this to happen are different.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

No trucking way mate! You'd have these right-wing imperialists firing off pot-shots at every foreign vessel or plane that came within cooee of the arcapeligo! I do not and cannot trust Japan to control their own military.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

There is only one issue here. It makes no difference whether or not you use some smokescreen to explain it or not.

One would have to be totally naive to think that there is only "one" issue here. Oh and the US has wanted Japan to play a larger part in the security alliance for DECADES, this is not a recent issue. It has only become politically feasible within the past couple of years.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It has only become politically feasible within the past couple of years.

Let me finish that last sentence for you.

It has only become politically feasible within the past couple of years..... because of borderline fascist politicians nationalizing islands, planning to revoke previous apologies for Japanese atrocities in mainland Asia, and other attempts to fan the flames and provoke a response from neighboring countries, with the Japanese electorate falling for it hook, line and sinker.

The ease with which the Japanese can be manipulated in this way by appeals to their sense of 'patriotism' is the reason why this push for greater militarization could be the first step along a path that does not lead anywhere good for East Asia.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

If Japan had marines they'd be even more wishy-washy than their "Rangers". If that is possible.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I want to see the campaign backing this change up - featuring Prince Pickles and Parsley-chan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This whole notion... that Japan will somehow suddenly completely go out of control once they have their own military (which they already do, they're called the SDF), is completely exaggerated and blown out of proportion.

In reality... the SDF is really not that bad, and ironically it's even one of the most democratic institutions in Japan.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Better to have the capability when it's needed than to not have it at all! Regards ekstender.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I find the thought of Japan acquiring offensive capabilities offensive.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Scary stuff for our neighbours.... what if our neighbours emply the same tactic of pre-emtive strike on Japan? those who talk about war and defend territory all the time are so naive, they need to see the big picture, "We Are All One" Genki Sudo!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Thomas Anderson,

How could an armed force, such as the SDF be democratic?

"All right. All those in favour of engaging the enemy raise your right hands."

"Yes, Corporal?"

"OK, if you are left-handed you may raise your left hand."

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

maybe in a few decades jpn can begin their failed conquest of the 40s

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

One sword keeps another in its sheath. I completely understand Japan wanting to up its military: North Korea, China, and Russia have powerful militaries, and they're all almost within tactical weapons range of Japan. If Mexico had nuclear weapons and China's army, I would certainly expect the US Southwest to be heavily armed and fortified. Why shouldn't Japan? Sure, they had a bad run back in the '40s, but this time, they're the little guy. It's an interesting precedent, but I can't blame them for wanting it.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

It is not going to happen. The US enjoys its protection racket too much. This is Abe blowing smoke threatening to go this direction to rally his yeehaw base and using it as a bargaining with the US and TPP to get less of a crud deal.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

About time! Abe, you cheek, I love you.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Launching a first strike against an Asian neighbor would be the end of the East Asian civilization. It would be insane.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

It has only become politically feasible within the past couple of years..... because of borderline fascist politicians nationalizing islands, planning to revoke previous apologies for Japanese atrocities in mainland Asia, and other attempts to fan the flames and provoke a response from neighboring countries, with the Japanese electorate falling for it hook, line and sinker.

If that is your observation, either you are drinking the Chinese propaganda Kool-Aid very hard or just a very bad observer. You are ignoring the role of China's ever growing offensive capability or their newfound aggressiveness (after around 20 years of playing meek).

At worst, the whole nationalization business merely accelerated things by a couple of years. Sooner or later Japan will have to respond in some way to the increasing Chinese encroachment and it'll become the excuse China uses. The only thing that's bad is that it wasn't 2 years earlier - the time isn't really quite ripe yet for China to reveal its true colors, and now they've been pushed to reveal it a bit earlier than the optimum time.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It's about time! Japan needs to have the legal capability to defend it's allies if they are under attack

Who are those allies that Japan want to defend with a first strike ?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Well, I am generally supportive of Article 9, though some minor tweaking would be okay to allow a faster response if attacked. I don't support first strike capability. I know the US has been pressing Japan to participate more militarily, but I think this is, in general, a huge mistake for Japan, for the US, and for regional stability.

Why would China or Russia sit around while Japan rearms itself and allows first strike capability?? They won't.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Having military does not mean that you have to act belligerently... neither does it mean that you can't talk or negotiate and start threatening its neighbors. It just means that its nation will have the right and the ability to become an INDEPENDENT SOVEREIGN NATION... This is important, because Japan currently does not have this due to lack of having military, and therefore it must become reliant on US for support and defense.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

What global corporations benefit from an Asian arms race that includes Japan?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

HowardStern,

What global corporations benefit from an Asian arms race that includes Japan?

And there, you hit the nail on the head!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I'm curious from a logistical perspective if this is even possible. Who is going to join this increased military? As I recall, the GSDF has never exceeded 87% of its authorized force levels.

And it is not JUST because most military age potentials are soft (seriously, scared of THESE guys???). It is due in part to the fact that unlike most Western militaries, temporary service followed by reintegration into civilian society (& employment) is almost impossible. The JSDF is a life-long job because no other job exists if one quits. Military-aged men and women make rational cost-benefit analyses and say, "no thanks."

Add to this the decreasing pool of potential applicants, it makes a 10-30 thousand man amphibious force sound rather "ambitious." One can largely automate air and sea assets (not their extensive maintainence), but amphibous combat ops are still a very labor-intensive undertaking.

That said, I do not believe that upgrading and rationalizing Japan's military power to face real and expected threats automatically equates to a re-militarization of society. China and North Korea are real and ongoing threats and Japan is fully justified in planning, equipping, and training for these threats.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hallelujah it's about freaking time. Yes I'm sure China is going to be all upset that they may not be able to bully Japan as much as they had hoped. Maybe they'll increase the Nanking figure to 1,000,000 or something. In today's age of missiles with only minutes to respond after launch, the only real defense is to take them out before they launch.

BertieWoosterJul. 25, 2013 - 04:14PM JST Abe's first, careful step to creating the fascist ultra right wing Japan he envisions.

You mean like China is today?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Or like Japan may become if Abe has his way.

Only if you focus on the subheading of the essay.

The bottom line is all of the amendments has to go through national referandum among voting citizens which is not the case for China.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Japan is responding to the actions and behavior of China, a country with whom it had good relations since 1972 when they both signed a friendship treaty. The office of PM in Japan does not have the singular power needed to turn a democratic country into an authoritarian regime.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

If that is your observation, either you are drinking the Chinese propaganda Kool-Aid very hard or just a very bad observer. You are ignoring the role of China's ever growing offensive capability or their newfound aggressiveness (after around 20 years of playing meek).

At worst, the whole nationalization business merely accelerated things by a couple of years. Sooner or later Japan will have to respond in some way to the increasing Chinese encroachment and it'll become the excuse China uses. The only thing that's bad is that it wasn't 2 years earlier - the time isn't really quite ripe yet for China to reveal its true colors, and now they've been pushed to reveal it a bit earlier than the optimum time.

alliances form and changes over time. in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, the US was politically allied with China, while India was with the Soviet Union. currently, China and India swapped partners. who knows in another 20-30 years, China and Japan could be friends.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

According to his biography, anime director Hayao Miyazaki is considered anti-war & a devout pacifist .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan already have one of the most powerful military in the world and there is no sense of hiding it behind Self Defense name anymore.

Japan is an independent country and it should have the same right as other countries have: like USA , France..etc.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Last time I heard Japan has been governed by the same type of government since the War. It is a delusional democratic system where there are rules and regulations limiting people’s freedom on almost everything. Japan has been the initiator of all the issues concerning China if you read the news. China has been friendly towards Japan since opening its door to the outside world otherwise China wouldn’t be Japan’s largest trading partner. China even put a lid on the islands issue for many decades until J gov’t decided it’s time to spread the “China Threat” scheme. Japan has been blaming and smearing China in every turn, and a recent New York Times article states “This recent controversy offers a cautionary lesson for Mr. Abe and other Japanese nationalists: within Japan’s democracy there is a growing commitment to greater truth telling about Japan’s wartime past and an intolerance for leaders who deny or speak insensitively about it.” if you have been following the news, you will understand that J gov’t has been using China for its political gains. Heck, we could call it a “manipulative delusional democratic system.” What happens to the peaceful Japan? Is it really worthwhile to ruin that image by getting that first-strike capability?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Ba hahahahahahahaha

0 ( +1 / -1 )

good on japan!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

China doesn't start wars? Tibet would disagree.. so would Vietnam! After the West left Vietnam China took a shot at Vietnam and also got their buts kicked out! I respect Vietnam! I hope Japan does have the first strike policy!

I also hope Japan will take all the refugees when North Korea disappears from the face of the earth!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good news. Japan is in charge of Japan. China is in charge of China, Neither has any right to tell the other what to do on their home territory. The islands in question are Japanese requiring that Japan defends them. Kept simple things are pretty easy to see and understand.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oh, great. Feels like 1903 or 1936. Will it be a preemptive strike or a sneak attack? Either way it would be perfect for the US since if Japan does either, they don't have to honor their defense alliance.

As for countries that went from democracies to authoritarianism, every fascist country. It is almost a requirement that you have a democracy into for fascism to take control. Remember that Hitler was elected before he dissolved the parliament. Even Japan was a democracy before it became a an authoritarian state with it's form of fascism. Look at how Hitler, Mussolini, and even the Japanese militarist came into power. There are claims that Napoleon was the first European fascist. France was a democracy before Napoleon.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Several issues here- 1. looks like lots of exports for American military companies to help reduce the deficit. 2.The SDF has had a history of not reporting events until things have played things out and one wonders how strong the ideal of civilian control over the SDF is. It often seems as though the military are irritated at having being made accountable. 3. Japan also has one of the largest militaries in the world- top 4-5? and in addition it has several american bases with large garrisons so one wonders just how necessary it would be for the country to increase spending- especially with such a large deficit. 4. The whole island issue has only raised it's head since Ishihara decided to make it an issue. The island thing was never a problem until about a year ago and one wonders just how much China should be held to blame for the whole thing. A lot of scaremongering if you ask me. 5. There seems to be an attempt to make Japanese more patriotic and having a "strong" Japan ie. military is seen to be a condition. However, a strong Japan does not make for a healthy Japan. Human rights are being undermined by revisions to the Constitution. A strong man can die tomorrow from too much exercise!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

flowersJul. 26, 2013 - 01:21AM JST Last time I heard Japan has been governed by the same type of government since the War. It is a delusional >democratic system where there are rules and regulations limiting people’s freedom on almost everything. Japan has >been the initiator of all the issues concerning China if you read the news

I think you need to study some history to appreciate just how different the pre-1945 Japanese government is from post 1945. As for limitations on freedoms I haven't seen them throw newspaper editors or authors into jail for "advocating democracy". Or prohibiting their Nobel prize winners from going to go receive it, China has been and continues to be the instigator of all issues with Japan, ripping apart the very Treaty of Friendship that they signed with Japan in 1972 and even reaffirmed in 1978.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Guys, recently Japan has obtained the right to declare war for so long since the end of war (which Japan had never the right to do that after WWII), so the fact that they wish to have their own military it's strictly possible. And not necessarily is meant to do only offensive moves.

I mean, if a foreign will attack Japan, they really have to defend only themselves without even responding to a treat?? If countries like North Korea decides to strike against Japan? they should react somehow and now, in 21st century, still relying on U.S. military could be something embarassing. It's right that they have to walking with their own legs someday.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Guys, recently Japan has obtained the right to declare war for so long since the end of war (which Japan had never the right to do that after WWII), so the fact that they wish to have their own military it's strictly possible. And not necessarily is meant to do only offensive moves.

Obtained the right to declare war? Where in the world did you hear that?

I mean, if a foreign will attack Japan, they really have to defend only themselves without even responding to a treat?? If countries like North Korea decides to strike against Japan? they should react somehow and now, in 21st century, still relying on U.S. military could be something embarassing. It's right that they have to walking with their own legs someday.

This is called "defense" and Japan already has it's own "Self Defense Force" if you did not know. What is being discussed is having and "offensive" capability.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not as if doing this, or removing Art. 9 are going to turn back the clock to the 1930s. It's simply giving back the latitude that every other country in the world possesses. Nor would it be possible to use the power in a vacuum; it's to maintain territorial integrity until the United States can deploy its full power.

France was a democracy before Napoleon.

Really? If getting dispossessed of your head for disagreeing with Robespierre is democracy...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When people in Detroit are having problem finding enough money to buy their own breakfast, it's time Japan weans its bad habit of getting free military lunch from others. Arm yourself and form a mutual defense body with friendly nations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan has already the right to self defense, that is enough, if some country is launching missile first in the air then Japan and USA will respond within second so I do not see how a "first strike" will add more safety, more cover to Japan than the current situation. "First strike" means Japan want the possibility to be the aggressor for reason A,B,or C and use WAR as a mean to resolve dispute decided only by Japanese politician, well, the world does not need one more possible offensive aggressor, yes to self defense, no to have a new possible aggressor. Honestly, all civilized countries should have article 9 in their constitution, not the other way around. Dropping article 9 would be a regression in the world peace.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"if some country is launching missile first in the air then Japan and USA will respond within second so I do not see how a "first strike" will add more safety, more cover to Japan than the current situation."

What if USA won't, or couldn't? What if the unreliable counter attack missile fails? First Strike has kept us alive till today, because neither Russia nor USA had the heart to go First Strike for fear of getting the due consequences minutes later.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ka_chan,

Although I agree with much of what you write and I too am very concerned about Abe's fascist leanings, Japan was NOT a democracy before WWII - I wouldn't say that it is now either - and France certainly was not a democracy before Napoleon.

As for Japan's having first strike capability, I think this is a very, very dangerous move.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Every other country but Japan has the right to defend itself from foreign aggression. That is the reason China is bullying Japan, because its ability to defend itself is restricted.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You know this proposition about first strike capability, and positioning in in media like this tells me it is more likely to be a symbolical and political warning to China. It doesn't mean that they will do so. Actually it may be compared to the Chinese starting to talk about Okinawa, when the actual problem is Senkakus potential resources. Sure japan is a democracy and has been for some time. But as in most democracies it looks a bit different from the other. Seems to me the big problem with many commentators here is the inherent need to keep describing japan and its people with a viewpoint that got stuck in ww2. Lets flip the cake a bit. Maybe it´s just as fair and reasonable to say that the problem is not so much Japan but instead the commentators that refuse to move forward in history, instead they try desperately by any means necessary to keep their view of old imperial japan, not as it is today. Why not try to take off your glasses from 1942 and buy a new pair? There is always a danger for history to repeat itself but in the case with Japan I think not so much. The treatment of the society and institutions in japan after ww 2 was pretty much the same as in West Germany. Given all that could have gone wrong during those times I think it worked pretty well. I think that one of the main reasons for this was that the allied nations had learned their lesson from ww 1. They didn't want to do the same mistake again and risk a new war.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites