With a push from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the lower house of the Japanese parliament passed a series of controversial security-related bills on July 15. Currently, the measures are being deliberated by the upper house. Abe hopes that the bills, which will remove constraints on Japan's military imposed by the international community after World War II (WWII), will be passed by mid-September.
The new security legislation would allow Japan's military to fight overseas under the doctrine of collective self-defense, a move that is seen as posing a threat to world peace 70 years after the end of WWII.
The Potsdam Declaration in 1945, which defined the terms for Japan's unconditional surrender, explicitly stipulates that the country forever eradicates militarism and establishes a pacifist government. Despite adjustments over the years by successive Japanese governments, the policy of "purely defensive defense" has always been maintained. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution states, "The 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."
The new security bills make the policy of "purely defensive defense" impractical and are contrary to the principles of the Potsdam Declaration, which espouse rebuilding peace around the globe. In addition, the Abe administration announced in early August a highest-ever defense budget of 5 trillion yen ($40.2 billion) for 2016.
Abe's attempts to develop Japan into a military power have been opposed by the international community. Many Japanese people have also taken to the streets to protest against the new security bills, fearing their country will once again become entangled in foreign conflicts. The wars of aggression waged by Japan against its Asian neighbors more than 70 years ago not only brought disaster upon the people of those countries but also brought misery to the Japanese people. Following the passage of the new security bills at the lower house, Abe's approval rating has fallen.
Since adopting the Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has indulged Japan's right-tilting, which has been the main enabler for Abe's actions to enhance Japan's military role.
Against the backdrop of China's fast development, the United States has forged a stronger alliance with Japan. At the same time, the Abe administration has repeatedly trumpeted the "China threat" rhetoric. Superficially, it does so to pander to Washington; but in actuality, Abe is playing the China card to justify his attempts to revise the pacifist Constitution and expand the scope of Japan's overseas military operations.
As long as Japan does not develop nuclear weapons, the United States is very likely to continue its indulgence of the country. Given its technological capability, however, it would be quite easy for Japan to do so.
In his remarks at a ceremony in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Abe made no mention of the "three non-nuclear principles" of not producing, possessing or allowing the entry of nuclear weapons into its territory. Under heavy pressure at home and abroad, he had to cite the principles in a later speech commemorating the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
The international community fears that it would be unable to shut Japan back in the box again if, with U.S. backing, the ropes restraining Japan military expansion are removed.
Home to some of the world's most vibrant emerging economies, the Asia-Pacific region shares the common aspiration for peace, development and cooperation. Regardless of the desire of peace-loving people in the region, the Abe administration repeatedly promulgates ramps up regional tensions.
The United States has no need to curb China through Japan. The Chinese nation loves peace and has no ambitions to invade other countries. It's time for the United States to relinquish its "zero-sum" thinking.
Copyedited by Calvin Palmer
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