By Ryan Love | USA
Nationalism is the new black. And in the Land of the Rising Sun a necessary resurgence is occurring. Growing threats from North Korea and China, as well as historical tensions with Russia, have led Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare that threats to Japan are at their highest since WWII. With nuclear powers surrounding Japan absent the US-Japanese military alliance Japan could be wiped off the map at worst, and at best become a secondary power in an East Asia rising in prominence. The reason behind these threats is simple: Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. The article that prohibits the re-militarization of Japan. Without a strong military, accompanied by nuclear weapons, Japan will likely continue to be threatened by its neighbors.
The Liberal Democratic Party, the party firmly in control of the Japanese Diet, knows all of this. And yet over 70 years of pacifism has rendered the necessary political capital to fund these changes lacking. The most recent poll conducted in Japan holds support of the current constitution at around 55%. And yet Japanese nationalism is on the rise. Nippon Kaigi, the predominant establishment nationalist movement in Japan has members at all levels of government, and frequently in the majority. At over 38,000 members strong Nippon Kaigi has worked successfully to revise history textbooks to omit alleged war crimes and push for reform to allow for the re-militarization of Japan. A demilitarized Japan only serves to allow for further destabilization in East Asia. Particularly because countries like China and both Korea’s harbor malice toward the now-defunct Japanese Empire. As these countries, particularly China and North Korea, continue to expand their military actions only a revitalized Japanese military can prevent these transgressions.
A militarized Japan is one that prevents North Korean missile launches and Chinese expansion into the East and South East China Sea. It also ensures that America has a military ally capable of holding its own if conflicts arise in the future. And make no mistake the risk of conflict in the status quo is exceptionally high. Ask yourself, if Japan was a nuclear power would North Korea continue to shoot missiles into the Sea of Japan? Would China continually infringe upon American interests in East Asia? The answer is no. A strong Japan helps to strengthen the United States. And a self-sufficient Japan, militarily, ensures that the United States doesn’t have to bear such a financial burden for Japanese security, without losing influence in East Asia. Recent estimates from the Council on Foreign Relations put the risk of war at over 40%. The United States needs strong allies in the event of a conflict. Absent a re-militarized Japan the United States sits in a difficult situation, particularly if a conflict involving any combination of China, North Korea, or Russia arises.
Like Americans, the Japanese love their country. And they desire strongly to be able to defend their homeland. 2018 has brought about significant geopolitical threats both for the United States and for one of its closest allies Japan. A restoration of the Emperor to his divine status, as well as a revitalized Japanese military, will display to Japan’s enemies, who are also America’s enemies, that further transgressions must end. Japan should not be ashamed of its history and its culture. Particularly when such shame fuels and allows its enemies to mobilize against it. To war monger would be pessimistic, but with rising threats, it is important that America, and our allies, are at their strongest.