The days of post-World War II pacifism in Japan are more or less over.
The Japanese government has announced it will bolster its coast guard capabilities to defend disputed islands in the East China Sea. China also claims and regularly patrols these islands. The coast guard budget is expected to reach a record of 210 billion yen (approximately $1.8 billion), adding eight new ships and more than 200 law enforcement officials.
Japan’s government also just approved a record defense budget of 5.1 trillion yen (approximately $44 billion), with a focus on China and North Korea. The budget is set to include six new submarines equipped with improved sensor technology, which is to be used to deter the challenges presented by the Chinese. The increased funds will also go toward an upgraded missile defense system.
Japan has supposedly been investing in a submarine program since the 1950s and analysts consider the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarine fleet to be one of its core strengths.
However, it remains to be seen how long Japan will be able to use the term “self-defense” as a justification for advancing its military capabilities. Earlier this month, China accused Japan of interfering with Chinese military aircraft and launching jamming shells, endangering the safety of Chinese aircraft and crew.
Japan has had a history of anti-militarism since the end of World War II when it was condemned for its widespread aggression. As Anti-Media reported last year, “Since the end of World War II, the Japanese constitution, imposed by the United States, has barred military action unless it is deemed necessary for self-defense.”
Nevertheless, the Japanese government has moved away from its historical pacifism, passing bills to bolster its military presence. “The new, hotly contested package of 11 security bills [gave] the Japanese military the option to engage in battle to protect their allies, including the United States, even if there is no direct threat to Japan or its people.” The bills were so controversial they provoked a brawl in the Japanese legislature and prompted thousands of protesters to take to the streets.
In spite of this opposition, however, it appears the Japanese military is embracing its new powers. Both sides are guilty of provocation, and both sides will be able to claim “self-defense” as a result of whoever pulls the trigger first. It’s an accident waiting to happen.