Japan moves from constitutional pacifism to security posture

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A reversal of course amid the Ukraine crisis would be a tragedy for the nation, the continent and the world as a whole.

People standing next to the Atomic Bomb Dome at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, a day before the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima on August 5, 2019. (Photo by JIJI PRESS/ AFP)

Published: July 15, 2022 at 03:53 GMT

Updated: July 15, 2022 at 04:01 GMT

With the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, the security posture in Japan has changed forever. No longer a rival, the East Asian nation is fully integrating with the United States and the West to become a regional military power that will impoverish the global anti-nuclear movement in many ways.

After its defeat in World War II, Japan became one of the most peaceful nations in the world. It would be a tragedy for the nation, the Asian continent and the whole world to reverse this trend.

Japan has been at the forefront of efforts to achieve the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and has played a crucial role in the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which ultimately aims to abolish nuclear weapons. The 12-member group, created by Japan and Australia in 2010, adopted the Hiroshima Declaration in April 2014 containing concrete proposals for disarmament, non-proliferation, nuclear safety and safeguards.

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In 1967, the nation adopted three non-principles prohibiting the production, possession and harboring of nuclear weapons.

Japan was the fourth country in the world to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear weapon test explosions. The country has set aside 10 facilities for the International Monitoring System to monitor nuclear explosions, including seismological, hydroacoustic and infrasound monitoring.

“Because of its anti-nuclear stance, Japan has provided a nation-building model for many countries, especially those in Asia”

The Japanese Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Victim Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), made up of survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, disseminated information about the harmful effects of nuclear weapons around the world and its members traveled tirelessly to convince the world not to use nuclear weapons again.

At its June 9 meeting, the organization passed a special resolution skeptical of Japan’s decision to possess nuclear weapons following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged June 21 at the first meeting of the parties to the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty in Vienna to stand with Japan “in pursuit of the abolition of nuclear weapons and lasting world peace”.

Responding to repeated calls from the Holy See, the Episcopal Conference of Japan has also launched numerous programs, both nationally and locally, to disseminate information about the dangers of the use of nuclear weapons.

Due to its anti-nuclear stance, Japan has provided a nation-building model for many countries, especially those in Asia. Investments and technology from Japan have raised the standard of living for many Asians. Japan’s contributions to the development of Asia have had a positive influence on the world as a whole. No wonder Japan was the world’s largest donor for most of the 1990s.

As the only nation to ever suffer the devastation of atomic bombing, Japan has always earned the moniker of a peace-loving nation by proactively tackling a wide variety of pressing global issues including poverty, climate change , environmental issues, disaster management, water and sanitation, health, education and agriculture.

“Becoming the first Japanese leader to attend a NATO summit in Spain on June 29, Kishida underscored the threat of Japan being surrounded by three nuclear powers”

Undoing years of progress made by Japan to create a world free of nuclear weapons, the country is poised to dramatically improve its partnership with NATO due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meticulously linked the security of Europe with that of Asia and hailed the growing engagement of the US-led Western alliance in the Indo-Pacific region.

Becoming the first Japanese leader to attend a NATO summit in Spain on June 29, Kishida highlighted the threat of Japan being encircled by three nuclear powers – China, North Korea and Russia.

Japan, the only Asian member of the industrialized countries of the “Group of Seven” and a NATO partner, has imposed sanctions on Moscow with which it shares a 1,924 km long maritime border. The sanctions included freezing the Japan-based assets of three Russian banks. The latest sanctions imposed by Japan, which is Russia’s fifth largest import source, include a ban on Russian gold imports.

In an unprecedented move, this time NATO invited the leaders of Japan and South Korea to its summit, where Kishida said that Japan, which has a US$47 billion military budget that has supplemented with an additional $6.7 billion in November 2021, seeks to strengthen partnerships with NATO and strengthen cooperation on cybersecurity and maritime security.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has already proposed doubling the country’s defense spending to 2% or more of GDP, on par with other NATO countries.

With the apparent blessing of the United States, the goal is to make Japan a major player in the East and South China Seas. Japan, whose self-defense forces are the world’s fifth strongest army, will act as the United States’ junior partner in Asia and beyond.

Although Japan’s militarization contradicts Article 9 of the constitution which prohibits “threat or use of force”, the government is determined to frequent the US-led world theater of war.

For starters, Japan, due to its past nuclear tragedy, may opt for low-yield nuclear warheads that the nuclear powers plan to manufacture soon.

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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