Craig Martin’s May 21 article, “Permanent SDF overseas deployment law endangers democracy,” was an extreme pleasure to read, although I do not agree with everything in it.
It’s 2008 and Japan has the second strongest military force in Asia, continues to spend 1 percent of its GDP on defense, has acquired some pretty neat military toys (and sells a few using a broad interpretation of “aid”), has redeployed newer fighter aircraft to its base in Okinawa, wants to acquire the F-22 Raptor, and will have a few helicopter “carriers” that will allow the Self-Defense Forces to project their “defense” closer to China.
Is the writer saying that Japan should never become a normal country and not have the right to collective self-defense? Wouldn’t this help ease the Okinawa problem? Maybe even provide a sense of pride in Japan’s slackers? Who knows?
I believe that Japan has used Article 9 and the Yoshida Doctrine to slowly and efficiently build up its SDF while enjoying or tolerating the collective-protectionism of the United States. While some say the U.S. should leave Japan or get out of Asia entirely, many Asian nations do not want to see the return of Imperial Japanese Forces, especially forces that can go nuclear.
Yes, there are still territorial disputes, false claims in textbooks, the comfort-woman issue, and the huge task of promoting Japan Inc. in a manner pleasing to those that fall sway to Japan’s soft power. But let’s face it: The bottom line is that China will continue to challenge U.S. foreign policy decisions by using both economic and, eventually, military power.
The rise of China and India is unavoidable. I feel that it is in the interests of the U.S and Japan to have Japan return to normal status and deploy its forces overseas. The first Persian Gulf War was an exercise in checkbook diplomacy for Japan. This time around with the global war on terror, Japan got its fingernails dirty, so the next logical move is to lend a hand.