Why Japan Should Go at it Alone on Security
Three years ago, I visited Hiroshima, where I saw the remnants of August 6th, 1945, the day America dropped the atomic bomb, killing over 140,000 innocent civilians. There were small graveyards all over the city in remembrance of the lives lost. The destroyed Genbaku Dome showed how quickly people could take life away due to their brutal pasts. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum showed how much the Japanese regret this past and want to show that they have changed for the betterment of the world.
After the allies defeated Japan in 1945, their first order of business was to make sure no other similar power would rise in its place. The United States wrote Japan’s constitution, which prohibited Japan from having offensive military capabilities. Instead, Japan has the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), which is supposed to play the role of the military but is technically a civilian organization.
Any rational country would have learned its lesson after 75 years, and Japan most certainly has. Every Japanese citizen has learned how inhumane their ancestors were during Imperial times. The Japanese by and large feel massive regret and disappointment for what happened. Yet, they still feel the repercussions of their actions almost a century later. Not only has Japan complied with American demands of not building an offensive military, but Japan has also traditionally sided with the United States even when it ran counter to its national interests. Additionally, Japan’s population has almost doubled since the 1940s, making the need for an offensive military an urgent matter, especially since not having a military undermines Japan’s national security. This is especially pertinent when surrounded by three highly unpredictable nuclear powers: China, Russia, and North Korea.
Take China for example. If the United States is ever in a war with China, Japan will have no way to protect itself if the battlefield involves the Japanese mainland, as their main ally will be sidetracked.
North Korea is another concern for Japan. It makes no sense that the United States still needs to station its military in Japan, as they have over 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea. I trust that if the U.S. removes its troops from Japan, North Korea will be more open to negotiations. Even though North Korea doesn’t have the best relationship with Japan, Kim Jong-Un would be more amenable to negotiations knowing that the threat level has been decreased, with mainland Japan free of U.S. military assets.
It has been 75 years since Imperial Japan fell, and every Japanese person understands and condemns the atrocities committed by their ancestors. They have learned their lesson and have since evolved into one of the world’s most respected cultures. The Japanese understand that nothing can ever fix the mistakes of the past. But enough time has passed, and in modern-day geopolitics, it is becoming more and more of a necessity for Japan to acquire its own legal, offensive-capable military to show their nuclear-powered neighbors that they will not just idly sit by if they are threatened.
All this should be done without the immediate presence of the United States in the background, as Japan is strong enough to handle military affairs by itself. Japan doesn’t need to become a nuclear power with the largest arms inventory in the world, but they at least deserve to have an offensive army to protect themselves and magnify their political, military, and cultural power.
Sanjan Kanajanavar has worked in local community matters, such as interning for local politicians, and being a video editor for a local non-profit socio cultural organization. Sanjan also loves traveling and learning about different cultures around the world, fluently speaks English and Kannada, and has been learning Mandarin Chinese at school for the past two years.