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How Japan Defends Itself - Facing the Power Shifts in East Asia

How Japan Defends Itself - Facing the Power Shifts in East Asia

von: Kumiko Ahr

vdf Hochschulverlag AG, 2014

ISBN: 9783728136107 , 160 Seiten

Format: PDF, ePUB

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How Japan Defends Itself - Facing the Power Shifts in East Asia


 

[1]1     Introduction

Security politics always take advantage of any situations promising an advantage. Even immediately after the strong earthquake and the big tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, its neighbor nations tried to use this situation to further their own interests (see Chapter 2). The Japanese, with their very strong pacifistic tradition and feelings, should start to seriously rethink their defense strategies. China’s economic and military power is restructuring the balance of power in the world. This development also has profound influence on the relations between the United States and Japan. On the one hand, the more important a business partner of America China becomes, the more America will strive to avoid confronting China. On the other hand, America must contain China. An example of this may be seen in the statement given at the Asia Security Summit (Shangri-La Dialogue) in June, 2012, where the United States addressed its new security policy aimed at strengthening its presence in the Asia Pacific region. The American navy deployment in this region will be shifted from presently 50% to 60% by 2020, i.e., 40% in the Atlantic and 60% in the Pacific region.1

Nevertheless, the US military transformation plan proposed to move a number of its military personnel from Japan to Guam, and the rising fiscal deficit of America has started limiting its military operations (see Chapter 2.5. The Influence of American Military Budget Cuts on East Asia).

Moreover, an island dispute between China and Japan has continuously intensified. North Korea’s missile tests also threaten Japan. Whether Japan’s ally, i.e., the United States, will defend Japan from its surrounding nations’ military actions has become a central worry to Japan.

With respect to these circumstances and all future developments, Japan should basically be in the position to defend itself without having to implore America for defensive help. Independent of the alliance with America, Japan has to have the capability of defending itself against aggressive neighbors, and since Japan’s neighbors possess nuclear weapons, Japan also needs to possess nuclear weapons to deter its neighbors and to avoid further escalation of military conflicts in the absence of better means of defense.

[2]1.1    Research Questions

Japan has been allied to America for more than 50 years. After the Second World War, the American military was stationed in Japan, for which the Japanese government was obligated to rent grounds, including islands in Japan to serve the American military as basecamps. The Senkaku Islands, which are now becoming one of the territorial hot issues, are still being lent to the American military as military exercise areas. The Japanese government in turn pays rental fees to the Japanese landowner.2 The Tokyo governor, Mr. Shintaro Ishihara, was planning to purchase parts of the Senkaku Islands from the landowner;3 however, the Japanese government then surprisingly purchased them in 2012. This story reveals that these islands belong to Japan, and that America recognizes them to be under Japanese administration.

Nonetheless, the American government has not clearly stated its position, rather wanting to distance itself from this issue.4 In the light of Japan’s insistence on applying Article V of the mutual security treaty between the United States and Japan to this disputed islands area (concluded in 1951, revised in 1960, and automatically extended since then, see Chapter 2, Security Treaty between America and Japan), the former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, announced that these islands would be covered by the security treaty.5 But her statement was still not clear enough to Japan as to whether America were really ready to fight against China to help Japan in case of events.

As to an island conflict between South Korea and Japan, Japan cannot expect much from the United States because both South Korea and Japan are its allies. America could not take up a position other than remaining neutral.

Furthermore, there are some discussions about the grand military strategy in America. Some propose that the United States should not become involved in regional conflicts of the world. Consequently, they think that Japan and South Korea’s going nuclear could not be avoided (see Chapter 5.2. American Deterrence for Japan).

These are good examples why Japan ought not to believe so easily in being defended by the USA If the Japanese feel insecure, they should think about their own defense.

These questions are pivotal to the situation that the Japanese are facing now.

What should Japan do to protect itself against potential threats including a nuclear threat? How strong is the probability that the United States would actually maintain deterrence, including the nuclear umbrella, in favor of Japan?

[3]1.2    State of Research

Most discussions have turned around the questions a) why Japan should/should not go nuclear: pacifism, constitution, war history, Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), relations with America, etc.; and b) the supposition that Japan could go nuclear in the future, though this proposition is not followed up by further analyses.

For example, in 2002 the Henry L. Stimson Center in America carried out a project analyzing Japan’s likelihood of going nuclear in which seven American and Japanese experts developed their analyses.6 For example, Smith concluded that the Japanese leadership deemed the American nuclear umbrella to be the best option against nuclear threats: Japanese leaders know that the alliance with America would be broken up if Japan possessed nuclear weapons.7 Two things are not certain, however. First of all, the Japanese people doubt that America will in fact deploy its nuclear umbrella to defend Japan. So why and how can the Japanese leaders be so sure about the US nuclear umbrella? Second, it might also be possible to keep the alliance with America even if Japan went nuclear, much as France and Great Britain did.

Jimbo reached the conclusion that missile defense and the US assurances of extended nuclear deterrence were key factors in whether Japan strives to possess nuclear weapons or not.8 Jimbo’s analysis is also based on the time-worn premise that Japan would not go nuclear as long as it could rely on the extended deterrence of America. Oros pointed out that Japan would not go nuclear because Japanese leaders cannot rally the necessary support from political oppositions and the general public. Regional relations could be strained, and the international reputation would be harmed.9 Akiyama also said in his paper that Japan would not go nuclear because Japan’s post-war polity was built expressly around preventing Japan from going nuclear. Japanese leaders advocate the US nuclear umbrella, and the Japanese public is predicated on its emotional and idealistic non-nuclear behavior.10 Oros and Akiyama’s paper explained why Japan would not go nuclear.

[4]Furukawa, on the other hand, implied that Japan would in the future more likely establish a new framework for its nuclear policy in order to respond to regional changes surrounding Japan,11 but he only focused on the difficulties in establishing this new political framework. Thompson and Self analyzed Japan’s technical capabilities of developing nuclear weapons and their applicability, reaching the apparent conclusion that Japan is in fact not ready to go nuclear both technically and politically.12

It seems that all of these arguments are based on the existing and remaining American protection for Japan. But if this precondition of American security support to Japan does not function, what should Japan do to defend itself? American protection appears to be available to Japan; however, international relations are not static but always change due to shifting power balances between the nations. American security grants to Japan are thus also liable to change. All independent nations have a right to self-defense. Some have very efficient means and others rather weak ones. The importance of Japan defending itself independently of the protection of others including nuclear deterrence is explicated in this dissertation; therefore, the option of going nuclear as a last resort cannot be excluded.

This dissertation analyzes the reasons why Japan should go nuclear to efficiently deter and defend itself. The question why Japan cannot go nuclear is rather an issue of implementation once Japan has decided to go nuclear.

1.3    Research Purpose and Scope

This work turns the tables by declaring that there is no other choice other than establishing a strong conventional military force including nuclearization if need be.

The purpose of this work is to interest people in the overall East Asian situation as well as in Japan’s specific security politics. This region is one of the most important areas of the world due to its high productivity, and any instable situation in this region would greatly affect world economy.

Moreover, in case of emergencies Japanese nonchalance regarding security politics might lead to emotional reactions because of their apparent lack of security concerns. Although a poll by the Japanese Cabinet Office in 2012 showed that 69.8% of the Japanese are interested in defense issues and in Japan’s self-defense force, less than half of them is exclusively interested in Japan’s independence and defense, the rest being concerned...