[EDITORIALS]Japanese rearmamentThe Japanese House of Representatives passed on Thursday a package of three bills ― “attack response” bills, it called them ― which outline how Japan would respond to a military threat, from North Korea, for example. As one of the countries that suffered from Japanese atrocities during World War II, we are worried about the passage of the bills.
It is especially surprising that the Japanese Diet, which has almost prohibited discussion of any national rearmament, passed the bills overwhelmingly, with 90 percent of legislators approving. Japan has recently shown a trend of expanding the scope of its self-defense efforts from its own territory to security situations in other area. This has aroused concern and suspicion among its neighbors, which worry about a revival of Japanese militarism.
When the attack response bills are implemented, Japanese defense policy will be changed drastically from its postwar self-defense orientation. That will, in turn, arouse fears in China and North Korea, creating tension and rapid changes in the security situation in Northeast Asia. This is the reason that liberal civic groups in Japan have objected to the package, calling it preparations for war.
Japan already spends an enormous amount of money annually on ultra-modern, state-of-the-art arms. In addition to that huge defense budget, establishing a package of “attack response” bills heralds the ultimate revision of Japan’s peace constitution.
We acknowledge the necessity of Japanese measures to defend against a nuclear crisis. If the response poses a threat to its neighbors, however, Northeast Asia will be forced into an arms race. This fear arises partly because Japan has not shed its image as a country that provoked World War II. U.S. forces in Japan play an important role in soothing the worries of surrounding powers.
Instead of clinging to the idea of rebuilding a militarized nation, Japan must give confidence to its neighbors that it is a peace-loving nation. For that to happen, Japan must repent of its war crimes first. No one will endorse Japan’s military buildup if it does not repent.