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Did China’s aggression convince Japan to abandon its pacifist roots?

TOKYO – President Biden was in Japan on Thursday to join fellow G7 leaders in Hiroshima for Friday’s summit that will see the world’s biggest economic powers grapple with global issues. China’s massive military build-up In the Pacific Ocean

Japan is already America’s biggest ally in the region Committed to doubling its national defense budget. It won the praise of the United States and marked a major departure from more than 75 years of foreign policy.

Japan’s constitution was written in 1945 by the American occupation authorities after WWII specifically to ensure that the country never went to war again. Article 9 of that constitution prohibits Japan from settling international disputes by force. That stance is reflected in the official name of Japan’s military, which is still called the Self-Defense Forces. These forces are authorized to defend the country, but not engage in offensive action.

Recently, however, China’s increasingly aggressive posture and military build-up have led to concerns about China’s intentions Kim Jong Un’s rule in North KoreaChanged context and mood.

Last August Huge war games around Taiwan, China tested five missiles that landed in Japanese waters. Then in December started the journey to China Its only aircraft carrier Between the two southernmost islands of Japan.

As a result, Japan now has widespread support for a more muscular military.

Tokyo defense policy professor Norushiga Michishita told CBS News that Japan’s decision to dramatically increase defense spending “could have been more controversial if not for China’s massive military buildup, its coercive and sometimes even aggressive moves in the South China Sea.”

China has concluded a three-day military exercise near Taiwan


Japan hosted a defense and security show earlier this spring that attracted manufacturers of every type of military equipment — from reconnaissance robots to warplanes and the latest missiles. The incident would have been unimaginable in pacifist Japan even a decade ago.

Ron Tryfus, who led the Israeli delegation to the show, told CBS News that his country’s defense manufacturers see Japan as a “market with a lot of potential.”

The prospect is amid huge expected growth in Japan’s defense spending, which will double by 2027.

Japan boosts defense spending after North Korea threat


“This is a major, major change,” Tryfus said. “This exhibition here, now here at this event, I think reflects the change.”

Doubling its spending would give Japan the third-largest national defense budget in the world and would see billions of dollars flow to US companies for weapons such as Tomahawk missiles and F-35 fighter jets.

“Now that people understand how serious this is,” Michishita said, “the potentially controversial change in Japan’s defense policy has so far been accepted by the Japanese people.”

But it’s a huge cultural shift.

Japan-Chiba-Arms Trade-Protests

People protest in front of the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on March 15, 2023, as hundreds of national and company delegations gathered inside for a military equipment display.

Zhang Xiaoyu/Xinhua/Getty

Until now, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have been known more for search and rescue services than for combat. Military personnel are not paid very well. Nor does the career of the SDF carry much social status in Japan.

Self-defense forces are investing in action-packed promotional videos to try to lure young recruits, so heavy investment in weapons has coincided with an increase in well-trained personnel.

But despite the pay rise, the campaign failed to convince young Japanese to join the team. The most recent recruitment drive aimed to sign up 10,000 new service members. It missed its target by half.

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Elizabeth Palmer

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