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Comment: Japan's actions threaten peace
( 2003-11-06 10:54) (China Daily)

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated on a Fuji TV programme on Sunday his desire to legitimize Japan's Self-Defence Forces (SDFs) as the national military by revising Article 9 of the country's pacifist Constitution.

As the result of its defeat in World War II, Article 9 clearly regulates that Japan should permanently abandon the right to use force or threatening to use force as a means of solving international disputes.

To this end, the article also states that the country should not develop its land, navy, and air military forces, with the SDFs mainly aimed at maintaining social order.

While defending his position, the prime minister claimed that a neutralized and non-military national policy would make Japan vulnerable to foreign attacks. Thus, he claimed it would be irresponsible for Japan not to develop and possess its own military forces.

Koizumi's argument seems reasonable at first. Any country should enjoy the right to develop necessary military means and capabilities to defend itself from foreign attacks and invasions.

However, Japan is not an ordinary nation like others. It is the country that brought about catastrophic suffering to its Asian neighbours by launching an aggressive war during World War II. And by far it has not had a careful self-retrospection of its war of aggression, and has refused to compensate the victims.

Also, the embellishment of its aggressive history from time to time by Japanese senior officials at the present day is also enough to make its Asian neighbours deeply concerned over any current military initiative.

Japan's eagerness to break away from the restraints of its post-war pacifist Constitution is not simply a measure to protect itself from outside military threats, but a key step to realize its long-pursued military power status.

Essentially, Japan's determination to revise its constitution reflects a change of its strategic mentality from defensive to offensive purposes.

Japan has equipped its SDFs with the world's most sophisticated weaponry despite its lack of legal foundation to develop its military forces. Its military spending has remained the world's second largest for several years, only behind that of the United States. It has also drafted an ambitious programme for its own national missile defence system (NMD).

Earlier this year, the Japanese Congress passed three so-called contingency bills, which specify what military measures and procedures the country will take while being under military attacks or feeling the danger of potential attacks.

The bills have provided Japan much room for subjective self-considerations of what are potential threats, leaving it the possibility for the adoption of a pre-emptive military strategy.

Koizumi's latest attitude will certainly arouse deeper concern from its Asian neighbours.

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