July 15, 2005
An American team put together after World War II wrote the Japanese Constitution, imposing pacifism as state policy. That was understandable 50 years ago. Now the constraints of the Japanese Constitution -- and the Japanese attitudes that have preserved them -- are senseless anachronisms, says Rich Lowry, editor of National Review.
The ideal should be to make Japan as reliable a partner of the United States in Asia as Britain is in Europe. The alliance is a natural, says Lowry:
- Japan broadly shares our values.
- The United States is the world's No. 1 economy, and Japan is No. 2, a powerful combination.
- We want to check China, and Japan feels threatened by China.
- Japan provides the basing the United States needs at a time when we have lost our bases in the Philippines and our relationship with South Korea looks shaky.
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is the main obstacle strengthening the U.S. alliance and loosening the more restrictive postwar constraints. The constitution -- and the interpretations and policies arising from it -- bans a standing army, collective self-defense and arms exports.
- Japan has a military, but it's called a Self-Defense Force, and it's supposed to be limited to territorial defense.
- For a long time, it denied itself refueling capacity for its F-4 fighters, since that was considered too "offensive" in nature.
- The prohibition on collective self-defense means that Japan cannot come to the aid of an ally -- i.e., the United States -- when attacked; the interpretation of this prohibition has prevented even routine U.S.-Japanese cooperation.
But it is a new Japanese government, with new norms, in a new time, says Lowry.
Source: Rich Lowry, "Unleash Japan," Jewish World Review, July 12, 2005.
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