Article 9 of Japan’s 1947 Constitution mandated that the nation “renounce war and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Since then, Japan has employed a 240,000-strong self-defense force in lieu of an active military for the primary purpose of defending Japan against direct invasion, amongst other functions. The creation of the self-defense force required the government to reinterpret Article 9 and conclude that Japan may defend itself if there is a present danger of invasion and no other appropriate measures for defense. Unlike a military, Japan’s self-defense force is prohibited from taking preemptive action and participating in collective self-defense — the self-defense forces can only act on threats to Japan. But considering the increasing aggression from neighboring countries and the growing independence of the nation, Japan must remilitarize to properly defend itself.
Japan’s self-defense force has grown dramatically since 2011, and is already considerably modernized with its sophisticated military technology. Remilitarization would simply permit Japan to use their self-defense force more openly.
The force has already proven useful in various peacekeeping operations, but remilitarization would allow troops to handle attacks against both Japan and its allies. Currently, American forces are obligated under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty to protect Japan when under attack, but Japan does not have to do the same for the U.S. Already the third largest global economy and a world leader in technology, Japan cannot rely on the United States to cover its defense for much longer. The remilitarization of Japan will not only result in a mutually beneficial alliance between Japan and the United States, but will also allow Japan to rise as a global power and keep China in check. With China looking to reclaim lost territories and prevent economic slowdown, military conflict between the two nations is a distinct possibility. The remilitarization of Japan will hinder China’s efforts; China would then have to combat both American and Japanese forces. Increased external pressures from other East Asian countries like China have the potential to disturb Japan’s current social, political and economic order, and rebuilding the military is an effective means of neutralizing that pressure. Once opposing nations recognize Japan’s potential military strength, the drop in outside pressure will provide for a greater power balance in East Asia.
Remilitarizing does not equate to going to war. In Japan’s case, the action would allow the nation to provide aid to other countries. Being able to lend support to allies by intercepting missiles and helping with military logistics like refueling will bolster foreign relations. Japan may also offer more assistance to countries with similar concerns regarding the rise of China, like Vietnam, Australia and India.
Remilitarization will allow Japan to thrive, no longer dependent on the United States for defense, and create a new environment that establishes the groundwork for Japan to increase its standing with other countries and fend for its allies.