Japan’s Parliament Votes to Allow Military Combat Involvement In Foreign Conflicts

Japan’s Parliament Votes to Allow Military Combat Involvement In Foreign Conflicts

Japan’s Parliament Votes to Allow Military Combat Involvement In Foreign Conflicts

Since World War II, Japan has remained exclusively defensive, and has rejected any aggressive involvement in world issues. The current Potsdam Constitution of Japan replaced a quasi-absolute monarchy, militantly lenient system held under the Meiji Constitution.

Perhaps the most unique part of the “model constitution” was the “no-war clause.” According to Article 9: “…The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Article 9 went on to abolish all land, sea and air military forces. This article was included as the result of a suggestion made by Prime Minister Shidehara to MacArthur. Shidehara believed that this provision would show the rest of the world that Japan never again intended to wage aggressive war.

However, Japan’s Pacifism took a rather brutal blow this week.

This week, Parliament marked a monumental change for Japan as they, under the lead of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, voted to give their military a more relaxed leash concerning foreign conflicts.

Mr. Abe has pressed this agenda, though, against the wishes of much of the Japanese public, and his moves have generated unease across Asia, especially in countries it once occupied and where its troops committed atrocities. Final passage of the bills would represent a break from the strictly defensive stance maintained by the Japanese military in the decades since the war.

Critics, including a majority of Japanese constitutional specialists, say it violates the country’s postwar charter, which renounces war. But the legislation is supported by the United States, Japan’s wartime foe turned ally and protector, which has welcomed a larger role for Tokyo in regional security as a counterweight to a more assertive China.

Much of the discussion concerning the need for change took place after the brutal murder of two Japanese hostages in January, both at the hands of ISIS. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had vowed to avenge their brutal deaths, and it looks as though he immediately began taking steps to loosen the restraints imposed by the Pacifism in the Potsdam Constitution. Upon declaring his vow to revenge the inhumanity thrust upon two of his citizens, questions began to rise to the surface.

“Japan has not seen this Western-style expression in its diplomacy before,” Akihisa Nagashima, a former vice minister of defense, wrote on Twitter. “Does he intend to give Japan the capability to back up his words?”

So it would seem. The brazen murder of their citizens shook Japan to its core, and awoke a slumbering nation.

“This is 9/11 for Japan,” said Kunihiko Miyake, a former high-ranking Japanese diplomat who has advised Mr. Abe on foreign affairs. “It is time for Japan to stop daydreaming that its good will and noble intentions would be enough to shield it from the dangerous world out there. Americans have faced this harsh reality, the French have faced it, and now we are, too.”

The crisis also comes at a crucial moment in Japan’s modern history. Since taking office two years ago, Mr. Abe, a strong-willed conservative, has tried to push his nation into shedding the passive brand of pacifism that it repentantly embraced after defeat in World War II, and playing a more active role in world events. Analysts and former diplomats say the stark savagery of the killings will be an important test of how ready Japan really is to step onto the global stage.

ISIS challenged them, taunting a nation that had agreed to mind its own business for roughly 70 years.

“Let the nightmare for Japan begin,” the masked militant proclaims before reaching down to kill Mr. Goto.

Japan reacted with an outpouring of fury and sorrow at the death of Mr. Goto, a respected journalist who was a veteran of war zones. Local television stations showed clips from his reports from places like Syria and Iraq, where he often reported on the plight of children and noncombatants. It was also noted that Japan was not even involved in the United States-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State, but its citizens were taken hostage and killed in the same cruel manner as those from other countries.

Critics are declaring that the change is unconstitutional, but the Prime Minister argues that it is simply a step towards preparing the country for hostile attacks, a necessary step in the face of dangers currently rising in today’s world.

“We are preparing ourselves in case we are attacked by a foreign nation,” he said in one address. “By preparing ourselves, just like well-protected homes help prevent robbers, this will allow us to prevent wars. This is deterrence.”

In the aftermath of such a change, it would serve us well to take a step back and look at the broad picture. For starters, this serves as proof that other nations are not simply beginning to see hints that America is losing its superpower status, but it would seem as though they are instead convinced that we are losing our superpower status. Furthermore, it also proves that American leaders have underestimated the Islamic uprising, an uprising that has encouraged Japan, of all places, to reject the role their foreign policy has played for roughly 70 years.

Could it be that this administration has, in essence, removed the lifegaurd from the pool? Now it would seem the swimmers are getting nervous about the sharks in the water, and they’re making moves to protect themselves because they see us sitting on the beach – just watching – as victims are lost, and lost with barely a notable reaction to boot.

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4 Comments
  • Derek Smalls says:

    Imam Hussein would never avenge American citizens killed by the glorious religion of peace, it might interfere with tee time and fundraisers.

  • Appalled By The World says:

    Good for Japan. Maybe they can defend us as we lack a government even remotely interested in defending its citizens, much less backing its allies.

  • Nina says:

    This had better make every foreign policy and national security analyst sit up and say WHOA!! This is a HUGE move by Japan and given the attacks in Chattanooga yesterday… If this doesn’t make people nervous then they truly have their heads buried in the sand.

    • Appalled By The World says:

      Nah-they’re sound asleep as usual. Please don’t disturb them.

      But we can be sure people are noticing in Beijing and Pyongyang.

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