The Japanese Cabinet approved a set of bills the other day that would expand the scope of Japan’s military and take a much more active role. While the reasoning for the move is understandable, many are against it. It’s a very strange and tough position for Japan in the ever changing world (at least in my eyes).
So what’s really happening? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is wanting to expand Japan’s military presence in the Pacific region and even beyond. It wants the military to have the ability to protect not only its people but to help protect and work with allies. For a long time, the Japanese military has been only as a defensive force for the country, which was established in the constitution after WWII, but Abe and his party are wanting to take a step away from that and branch out. Does it mean they will be ready to leap into any war? Not likely, but the new bills would allow them to come to the aid of an ally if needed, making them more proactive than they have been for years.
For example, if an American ship was under attack in the Pacific ocean, the military would be allowed to aid its ally. The proposed bills would also allow for disaster relief around the world and to protect its citizens around the world after several citizens were killed last year abroad.
While the expansion makes sense, there are many that are against it. For one, it would mean changing the constitution and going against the pacifist nature that the country has stood by since the end of WWII. Many Japanese want to maintain the pacifist nature that they have had for so long, no wanting to shed more blood in a conflict. There are those that also fear that such an increase would eventually draw Japan into a foreign war that they do not want to take part of. With that view, they have a solid point. In this new world we live in, it seems that every country is affected in one way or another by the events going on. Its nearly impossible to stay out of things, but many in Japan want to keep it that way.
In my eyes (I’m in the US, so just my foreigners take on it), I can see both sides of the coin here. For those wanting Japan to keep its military in the defensive position it has been in for years is ideal. No one wants to get into a war, especially a war that they are not really involved with. The costs in money and blood that is always shed is a high price to pay for a victory in a foreign country that may never come, its not worth it. Plus the rest of the Pacific area is watching closely. But on the other hand, the world is shrinking a bit. It seems every day there is something violent happening around the world and multiple countries are forced to get involved. From the middle east, to Europe, to Africa, and beyond, if something happens multiple countries are rushing to either offer aid or to offer military to fight an enemy force (I won’t list who I’m talking about but come, we all know who the US is fighting in the middle east and abroad). Many of the threats nations face today can’t be handled by one country (as Abe has pointed out), requiring multiple nations to join forces to answer the tough tasks that are at our hands these days. Its a very slippery slope to be on because it can lead to never ending conflicts. However, I think for Japan and Abe, they have to find a middle ground, a way to not get too involved but still be able to defend and help its allies that protect and support it. It will be interesting to see what happens in the following year with this.