According to the book entitled “Building Democracy in Japan” by Mary Alice Haddad, Japan had realized that it was time for them to revise their constitution to prevent another onset of a world war. The 1947 constitution introduced Article IX which clearly stresses the renunciation of war and the removal of permanent military power. However, despite Article IX, it is visible that Japan’s military posture is becoming more “muscular” as their response to the changing security environments threatened by terrorism and territorial disputes which requires active military action.
As stated in the article “New Fighting Power!” by Richard Samuels, Japan’s military capability had undergone a major overhaul due to the changing security environment in the region, challenging Japan’s military capability. The United States in the 1970s, saw that the region needed a leader in the guise of Japan to lead regional security operations and tried to influence the country to revise its military policy. Japan had not succumbed to the pressure due to Article IX until 1991. Japanese strategies saw the need to maximize the military due to the growing threats to the region, from terrorism to territorial disputes, thus the immediate revision of its military policy. From 1991 to 2003, fifteen new security-related laws had been enacted to improve the capability of the SDF to cover also overseas missions.
The reinvention of the Japanese military is a welcoming action as far as the international community is concerned. A much more open Japanese military would now also be able to aid other nations such as the ASEAN to develop their own forces to counter maritime terrorism and piracy in Asia, as well as mobilize overseas for foreign aid and development programs. While Japan’s forces are still adhering to the lesser use of military arms, the more muscular force now presents to the international community a leader to support Asian security.
However, a muscular Japanese force may pose a negative impact on Japan’s image in the international community. First and foremost, its imposed defense spending may reveal a lack of will from the Japanese to even take action to the security risks both at home and abroad. The mobilization of the JSDF may also be seen as an act of war, especially in foreign troops enter its territories. Japan Coast Guard had already experienced this with North Korea when a North Korean ship had been stopped near Amami Oshima and fired at the JCG despite the warnings sent to the vessel. Some may even see Japan’s lack of offensive force in their ships a liability if they were to be requested to stop disputes in the region.
With the changing security environment in the Asian region, a much more active military may be required to sustain its national security and aid the region from further threats from external actors. In the case of Japan, its developing military arm can be seen both negatively and positively by the international community despite its initiative. Nonetheless, in the given security environment and the threats imposed to every country, Japan must be able to mobilize its forces to ensure that it could protect its people even if they are restricted under Article IX.
Haddad, Mary Alice. Building Democracy in Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.
Samuels, Richard. ""New Fighting Power!" Japan's Growing Maritime Capabilities and East Asian Security." International Security 32.3 (2007): 84-112. Print.