Beware of Japan’s militarizationA committee under Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has created a big stir. It demanded that Japan have the right to exercise collective defense when the country or its allies are under attack. This would be a violation of Japan’s Peace Constitution, which strictly prohibits the country from engaging in war. Article 9 of the Constitution stipulates that Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.” Accordingly, Japan maintains a self-defense force, not a regular military force.
Drafted by General MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo after World War II, the Constitution of Japan was adopted by a majority of Japanese people in response to the massive casualties and damage Imperial Japan inflicted on Asian neighbors and America. Despite several attempts to amend - or interpret differently - the Constitution, they failed in the face of strong public resistance. That’s why the Constitution has remained intact since the enactment in 1947. The committee’s radical request to change the role of Japan’s armed forces will have to go through intensive debate before being adopted by the government.
What makes us worried, however, is the extraordinary speed of the Japanese government’s rush toward a strong military nation. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, a rising star in Japanese politics, boldly calls for nuclear armament of the country, while politicians from the ruling and opposition parties alike are jumping on the military bandwagon. The Diet’s swift passage of the controversial law on atomic energy use - which paved the way for the country’s nuclear armament - was also indebted to the militaristic mood as evidenced by Japan’s increasing arms exports, a plan to use space for military purposes and reinforcing mobility of the Self-Defense Force. Even the center-right Liberal Democratic Party has offered a commitment to amend the Constitution ahead of the general election in September.
Japan’s militarization is nightmarish for Koreans who had to undergo their harsh colonial rule for nearly four decades. Other Asian neighbors will also have the same feeling about Japan’s latest move as it will most likely provoke China to raise tension in the area to confront Japan’s military might. And that will bring about harmful effects on unification of the Korean Peninsula as well. The government must be prepared for Japan’s dangerous adventure.