October 03, 2014 By Kawasaki Akira and Céline Nahory
In the East Asian regional context, Japan’s changing security posture is not the force for peace Tokyo claims it is.
On July 1, Japan passed a Cabinet decision that fundamentally changes the interpretation of war-renouncing Article 9 of its Constitution to allow the exercise of the right of collective self-defense.
Claimed to be part of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s doctrine of “pro-active pacifism,” the move stems from a correlation between Japan’s rising nationalism on the one hand, and joint U.S.-Japan efforts to strengthen their security cooperation on the other, as Washington and Tokyo are renegotiating their defense guidelines for the first time since 1997. The revised guidelines are due by year-end, with an interim report slated to be released next week.
Proponents say the Cabinet decision provides only for a “limited” expansion of Japan’s military capability overseas and allows for a strengthened U.S.-Japan cooperation that will make the Asia Pacific region more secure. Abe even claims that “there are no changes in today’s Cabinet Decision from the basic way of thinking on the constitutional interpretation to date.” But is this really so?