Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Follow the (black, red, and) yellow brick road

The New York Times has an editorial today (registration required) that applauds Germany for its recent white paper on international security policy. The white paper calls for Germany to play a greater role in MOOTW operations -- including peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction, and counterterrorism operations.

Sound familiar?

This is precisely the role that Japan aims to play in international security.

Both Germany and Japan have struggled to find a proper role to play in their respective alliances with the US, and both are increasingly finding that rather than needlessly duplicating American conventional power projection capabilities, they should spend their precious defense budgets on capabilities to complement US power.

Of course, Germany and Japan do not face identical situations. Japan still has to maintain some capabilities for territorial defense, particularly at sea and in the air, because its neighborhood is considerably more threatening than Germany's; as the Times notes, "Defending Germany’s borders, to which its army was restricted after World War II, is hardly a consuming mission in today's Europe."

It's time for Japan to follow Germany's lead and make its emerging security role explicit, by constitutional revision if necessary, or, short of constitutional revision, a reinterpretation of the constitution by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau that reverses the prohibition on the exercise of collective self-defense that has for decades prevented Japan from contributing more substantially to international security.

1 comment:

ターナー said...

I'm not sure we'll see that kind of reaction in Japan just yet. There was enough controversy surrounding the deployment of the self-defense force, even in a "peacekeeping" capacity. With a new PM still testing the waters, particularly with China and South Korea, we may see Japan in more of a submissive state, relying on the nuclear umbrella from the US for the time being.

I personally think they should be outward in their intentions, but any reaction they have will cause an immediate backlash with China and the DPRK.

What's the future? Japan without a pacificist constitution because of this new nuclear threat? Will the country actually try to develop weapons? I seriously doubt the latter, but the former is quite likely.