Recently, American and Western public opinion has paid increasing attention to Japan’s recent moves on defense. More and more analysts believed that Japan seems to be undergoing the largest-ever “military” transformation in recent decades. Some American media have raised questions like “whether Japan’s military is strong enough to subvert the military pattern in the Asia-Pacific region?” And some other American media even reported that Japan intends to abandon its postwar pacifism. Regardless of the true intention of these reports, they do raise an important issue that deserves the vigilance of regional countries.
Although Japan has generally left a “low-key”, “restrained” impression on the international community in defense in the past few decades, some American media said that the well-trained and well-equipped Japanese Self-Defense Forces have now been among the most powerful armed forces in the world. According to the assessment by the Global Firepower, a military ranking agency, Japan’s overall defense strength ranked fifth in the world. In the global military strength rankings published by Japanese media, Japan ranked fourth.
The outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has triggered the “remilitarization” ambition of the Japanese right-wing forces. On June 19, leaders of Japan’s ruling and opposition parties including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed on TV whether Japan should consider acquiring a nuclear-powered submarine. Not long ago, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party proposed to increase the proportion of GDP for defense spending from 1 percent to 2 percent within five years. Japan has been propagating and emphasizing its “unease.” This, in turn, also makes Japan’s neighboring countries feel puzzled and uneasy. Japan, which has gradually shifted its national focus from economic development to “military expansion”, is becoming the biggest hidden danger to peace and stability in East Asia.
In the process, Washington’s indulgence has offered the Japanese right-wing politicians unrealistic fantasies. In the face of Japan’s move to seek a “fundamental change” in defense, Kurt Campbell, the US White House’s Indo-Pacific policy coordinator, did not express any concern. He described Japan as a “responsible country pursuing modern democracy,” and said that “memories of a distant period do not animate modern concerns.” What people see from this is that Washington is leaning over to untie the ropes that it once bundled up on Japanese militarism. The utilitarian mentality of using Japan to build a containment circle against China has overwhelmed deserved US concerns on regional risks and consequences.
Given the overall operations conducted by Washington, the real dangers of Japanese right-wing forces have been obscured. Japan is the only country in the world that dares to openly deny the history of its aggression in World War II, but the US has kept endorsing Japan’s ambitions out of its own geopolitical self-interest. It hopes that Japan could keep the ability to “bark” at China frequently, even “bite” when necessary, while it takes Japan under its own control confidently. In other words, the US does not care if Japan is smashed to pieces in the geopolitical collision, while Japan wants to use the US’ selfishness to achieve its purpose of completely unleashing its military and political restrictions, which has become a dangerous scheme of theirs.
Currently, the entire Japanese political arena tends to be not clear-headed. There are voices in almost every political party advocating the need to increase Japan’s defense capabilities, as well as “striking bases in enemy territory.” In particular, Washington is putting out the fire for Japan’s “remilitarization” that threatens the world’s public opinion, while at the same time giving Japan the initiative to stand at the forefront of US geopolitical competition. The scars of history remain vivid in people’s minds, and the real danger is quietly approaching. Whether it is to prevent the resurgence of Japanese militarism or to avoid the upspiral of regional security dilemmas, it is necessary for the international community to throw cold water on Japan’s foolhardiness.
Editor's Note: This article is originally published on huanqiu.com, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.