Japanese Prime Minister Wants to Revise Pacifist Constitution to Create Military Force

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and wife Akie Abe arrive at Marka international airport on April 30, 2018 in Amman, Jordan. Abe is on a Middle East tour visiting the UAE, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Getty Images)

 

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe steps up efforts to change Japan’s constitution to allow the creation of a military force by 2020.

“Let’s fulfill our mission by clearly writing in the constitution the Self-Defense Forces that protect peace and independence of Japan,” Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said on September 9, reiterating his support for changing Japan’s constitution to allow for a military.

The second clause of Article 9 of Japan’s constitution says that “Land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Nonetheless, Article 9 allowed Japan to create its own military strictly for the purpose of defending its own borders. This de facto military is known as Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (sdf).

Prime Minister Abe wants to officially change this policy. And he wants to do it by next year. Continue reading

Japan Mulls Creating Its Own CIA

After the Islamic State hostage crisis, Japan wants to beef up its intelligence apparatus.

As Japan recovers from the shock of the hostage crisis, lawmakers are beginning to consider how they could have responded to the situation better. One of the key issues being discussed is how to overcome Japan’s reliance on foreign intelligence agencies to gather information abroad, because Japan does not currently have an independent intelligence-gathering entity.

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Insight: Japan unease over U.S. alliance adds fuel to Abe’s security shift

In public, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government lists a more assertive China and a volatile North Korea as its top security concerns.

Behind the scenes, though, another concern is growing: that the United States may one day be unable or unwilling to defend Japan, interviews with Abe advisers, politicians and security experts show. The worries are adding momentum to Abe’s drive to beef up Japan’s air and naval forces while loosening constitutional limits on action its military can take abroad. Continue reading

Inside Japan’s invisible army

The country’s constitution bans it from having a traditional standing army. But its so-called Self Defense Force is one of the world’s most sophisticated armed bodies.

FORTUNE — On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world.

Japan’s armed forces are euphemistically dubbed the “Self Defense Force” (SDF) — officially it’s an extension of the police. Continue reading

Hawks Ascend to Power in Asia

Japan and South Korea underwent leadership changes this week, which means all four of North Asia’s major powers now have different leaders in office since this time last year. As these nations undergo leadership transitions, they’re also jockeying for position in a shifting world order, which places China in a dominant role.

Japan’s new premier is the grandson of a World War II minister who helped run Japanese-occupied Manchuria, and who later tried to abolish the pacifist clause in Japan’s constitution. China is now ruled by the son of a Communist Chinese revolutionary hero—who was a close comrade of Chairman Mao. And both Koreas are now in the hands of descendants of Cold War dictators. Continue reading