Monday, July 10, 2006
This is astonishing, actually:
Japan said Monday it was considering whether a pre-emptive strike on the North's missile bases would violate its constitution, signaling a hardening stance ahead of a possible U.N. Security Council vote on Tokyo's proposal for sanctions against the regime.
Japan was badly rattled by North Korea's missile tests last week and several government officials openly discussed whether the country ought to take steps to better defend itself, including setting up the legal framework to allow Tokyo to launch a pre-emptive strike against Northern missile sites.
"If we accept that there is no other option to prevent an attack ... there is the view that attacking the launch base of the guided missiles is within the constitutional right of self-defense. We need to deepen discussion," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.
Did you see that as it whizzed by? The Japanese are talking publicly about a preemptive sneak attack. Astonishing.
The Japanese are a consensus culture. They seem to do one thing until the consensus flips, and then they do the new thing. The combination of the improving economy after 15 years of stagnation, Prime Minister Koizumi's unapologetic nationalism, the death of the World War II generation, the sense that the United States is no longer quite the power in the Western Pacific that it once was, the rise of China and the insanity of Pyongyang is changing the equation for Japan. One can almost hear the switch flipping. Will North Korea's asinine missile launches prove to be the catalyst that motivates Japan to develop geopolitical stature commensurate with its economic power?
The Japanese are a global power of the first order, and are treated that way by the current administration. They are a natural counterforce to the rising Chinese behemoth. And the Japanese, by virtue of their clear and unconditional loss to the US in WWII, have signed on to Pax Americana - including by contributing materially as part of the coalition in Iraq.
Japan's threat -- not a historically idle one -- is a message to China to shut the Norks down or we have no choice but to rearm. Oh, and we may rearm anyway.
As well they should.
I suspect ... there are a fair number of countries in East Asia that are less than enthused by the thought of port visits from the Imperial Japanese Navy, or UN peacekeeping missions featuring battalions of Imperial Japanese Army infantry.
Asia is scared to death of a militarized Japan, as well it should be. I suspect Japan could become a nuclear power in about two weeks. This is not something I look forward to, but it seems inevitable. As history shows, Japan is not squeemish about getting its hands bloody and Korea was Japan's by right of conquest. I hope the doofus Chicoms are watching this unfold, because they are looking right down the barrel of a nuclear Japan and Taiwan if they persist in using NK as a proxy.
Funny, Japan doesn't have much in the way of an Islamic problem either.
Tora, Tora, Tora, baby!
I think the provisions in Japan's constitution are fascinating, but outdated, as it relies entirely on allies to be able to have any credible military deterrant. If you were Japan, you'd have to be concerned about the possibility of anti-engagement leaders coming to power in the US.
Fortunately, standing Japanese defense forces have been able to keep sharp over the years through their series of engagements with Godzilla, Mothra, Megalon, et al.
This "talk" by Japan is an attempt to goad China into finally doing something about North Korea. There is no way that they would be doing this if the US wasn't signed on as well, so I take it all to mean that the US is telling China that unless China takes care of the NorKs, we are going to permit, and perhaps encourage, Japan to re-arm.
The US should encourage Japan to develop and deploy it's own nuclear deterrent. It is necessary in that India, Pakistan, China and North Korea already are there. It would free the US to not have to respond to nuclear threats by one Asian country against another. It would clarify Chinese thinking vis-a-vis North Korea. It would prevent a needlessly expensive conventional arms race in Asia. The world would be safer with a few hundred Japanese nuclear armed missiles that would actually work.
I concur that this is a message to China from both the US and Japan.
I am wondering what the other powers in the area are seeing as their areas of decision. If you are Australia, India, or Indonesia, how does all this look?
I don't think many in this country how scary even the though of a militarized Japan is to the Chinese. Their recent history- which includes massacres we can hardly phathom like the Rape of Nanking- is too fresh to not be cosidered. The Japanese threat is the one thing that could get the Chicoms off their rears and paddle their petulant (and phenominally dangerous) child. If it doesn't, things could get real interesting.
I recall reading somewhere a while back that Japan has all the components for nuclear weapons, and that it could assemble them in a matter of days.
I have also spoken to Navy and Air Force friends who have done exchanges with Japanese forces and have done joint exercises with them. They have told me that the Japanese are at least as effective as our forces, and that their equipment is maintained better than ours.
A pre-emptive strike on the N. Korean liquid fueled rocket test site could be done with a relatively small force, because it would hit thousands of gallons of highly explosive chemical in relatively thin-walled storage tanks. A couple of cruise missiles or Predator drones would make a fireworks display you could probably see from Japan. I doubt the Japanese would do it though, because of the strong pacifist roots in the current population and constitution.