Japan tiptoeing to change pacifist Constitution

By Song Zhongping Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/7 13:58:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Peaceful development has been the key factor behind Japan's economic prosperity since World War II, but this momentum could be changing as the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to strengthen the country's military power by amending its pacifist Constitution.

The pacifist Constitution forbids Japan from possessing land, sea, and air forces as well as other war potential, and the military must only engage in "self defense". But now Japan, which inflicted misery on Asia-Pacific countries, now, under Abe's government, wants to be seen as "a country with normal status."

Abe regularly discusses the modification of the pacifist Constitution and has repeatedly breached the existing constraint mechanism with moves such as the approval of the New National Defense Program Guidelines, issued in December. The interval for amendment has also been halved to five years.

In addition to modifying its 27,000-ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyers into aircraft carriers, a move that essentially changes the warships' nature from defensive to offensive, Japan will purchase more F-35B stealth fighters, long-range missiles, radars and other military equipment.

Meanwhile, Japan has highlighted the "China threat theory" to support the US military to counterbalance China's non-existent military expansion in the West Pacific.

The New National Defense Program Guidelines have completely broken the promise of self-defense. They increase the defense budget by a big amount; and authorizes the Japan Self-Defense Force to safeguard Japan's interests both during peace and war.

Japan has been developing its strength in the area of ballistic missile defense, which will be part of its offensive weaponry capability. The country is looking to strengthen its "anti-missile capability" as well.

Once these intentions are fully realized, even if there is no further amendment to the defense program, the pacifist Constitution would no longer be valid.

In fact, Japan has been preparing to develop its offensive power for some time. The Izumo-class warships were originally designed in accordance with standards for an aircraft carrier. Its 27,000-ton displacement is much larger than that of the British Royal Navy's HMS Invincible, whose displacement was 20,600 tons when fully laden.

If deployed with F-35B fighters, MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors and SH-60K Seahawk helicopters, the Izumo-class' comprehensive combat power will win over both the British Invincible fleet and the South Korean Dokdo-class amphibious assault fleet.

Additionally, Japan would be able to form an air supremacy and long-range strike capability with approximately 20 F-35B fighters deployed on the aircraft carriers.

Combined with Japan's current Aegis destroyers, AIP submarines and two Hyuga-class helicopter carriers, the fully deployed Izumo-class aircraft carrier fleet's actual combat power will make it one of the leading navies in the Asia-Pacific region.

It could also create a domino effect across the region because such military power would drive South Korea - which has disputes on the Dokdo Island, or Takeshima in Japanese, to compete with Japan, thus leading to an arms race and cause concern across the region.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has to take the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy seriously as the Liaoning and Shandong aircraft carrier fleet are rivals of the JMSDF and Beijing is ratcheting up construction of more aircraft carriers. Besides the Type 055 and 052D destroyers, China will acquire more combat capability, which will hold the JMSDF in awe.

But China also cannot rest easy due to Japan-US military alliance, which would increase training of the joint combat capability of Japan's Izumo-class and the US Navy's aircraft carriers.

Japan is a country that stubbornly refuses to admit its history, white-washes its wartime past without restraint and has a number of territorial disputes with neighboring countries. By disregarding the pacifist Constitution and striving to develop offensive military forces, Japan has made Asia-Pacific countries worry that the ghost of militarism still haunts. Even worse, the US, the so-called guardian of the pacifist Constitution, has begun to vacillate on the issue and even support Japan's dangerous actions just to make this old-time enemy its accessory. This will allow the US to realize its unilateral global governance strategy and promote its Indo-Pacific strategy, including containing its No.1 competitor, China.

However, the US must also be aware that vengeful Japan will never forget the pain of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Under the connivance of the US, Japan will probably possess not only aircraft carriers but also ballistic missiles, and it could potentially even develop nuclear weapons if necessary.

If this occurs, this would be a nightmare for Asian countries and for the US as well. China is an important power that safeguards regional and international peace and stability. The stronger China is, the more voice and power of justice it will present.

Meanwhile, as another influential country, the US should not treat historical issues with double standards. The US itself suffered from World War II and must not drop its guard; otherwise history could repeat itself.

The author is a military commentator with the Phoenix Satellite Television. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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