Japanese Constitutional Amendment of 2015: Logical Step or Threat?
Awakening Land of the Rising Sun
A Constitution born from shattering defeat
During the war, Japan received from the USA not only atomic bombs but also a Constitution which prevented the country from acting on the international stage as a sovereign state. Why did thousands demonstrate against the constitutional amendment then? Many Japanese are proud of their country fully distancing itself from any military action. However, some rights of all sovereign states could be restored at the perilous time of the Islamic State’s rampage across the Middle East. Further reasons may include increased testing of nuclear weapons in North Korea which poses the greatest threat to Japan, aside from South Korea. In February 2016, North Korea launched another long-range ballistic missile above Japan thereby violating the rules of the United Nations once again. That’s another reason why Japan should play a stronger and more active military role in the region. The constitutional amendment also brings some new possibilities for resolving the aforementioned conflicts. The reason why the USA supports the changes is probably because this way it will have one more ally in the region with whom it can keep rebellious North Korea under control.
Within the region, China was against the amendment. Its attitude could be a result of its negative historical experiences with Japan. In 2016 however, such concerns are mostly unfounded.
Despite this minor change in the Constitution and the well-equipped SDF, Japan remains far behind greater military powers such as the USA, Russia, and China. Without the help of the US, it would not be able to protect itself from major attacks, let alone carry out more serious military action. Shinichi Kitaoka, former UN Secretary-General and the President of the International Japanese University, said about the amendment, which he himself supported: “This is only a minor change. There are only a few countries able to protect themselves on their own, including China, the USA, and Russia. Not even the British would have the ability to protect themselves on their own.”
One should not ignore the deep cultural changes either which make it nearly impossible for Japan to regress to its pre-war authoritarian rule. The cultural export of the US had a major impact on post-war Japan which resulted in a completely Western-style society. In my view, the chance that Japan would revert back to an authoritarian state is just as probable as Germany becoming a Nazi state again. Not more, not less.
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