Japan has drawn world attention recently due to efforts aimed at increasing her defensive and offensive military strength. Two of the strongest opponents are South Korea and China. In part due to a poor history stemming from WWII and Japan’s strong connection with America, these countries view an armed Japan as a real threat. They often cite history of the war atrocities that Japan can not be trusted with such power, where as Japan stands to reason her military build-up is only a response to the changing political climate that surrounds the island.
While the history of WWII is precedence, it is not an accurate reflection of the current times in Japan. Despite the blind eye Japan turns towards her past violence, there is little evidence to support the fear that history will repeat itself. The youth of Japan remain largely ignorant of the events leading up to WWII and the propaganda the fuelled the war. Whereas the youth of China and South Korean are constantly reminded of how ‘they’ were harmed by the Japanese, failing to mark the drastic differences between the state fifty years ago and the government that controls now.
Putting things into perspective, one might turn towards more modern times and take a closer look at the motives of China and South Korea keep the status quo. According to Foxnews.com “China announced in March it would boost military spending by 17.8 percent in 2007 to $44.94 billion, the biggest jump in more than a decade. But analysts believe the true figure is several times higher.” The annual Military expenditure of the PRC is 3.8% of China’s total GDP (reported) compare this with Japan’s .8% and it’s easy to argue for Japan’s military expansion goal. South Korea’s expenditure rate is 2.7% (2006) over three times that of Japan, however, South Korea’s GPD remains disproportionally low compared against Japan’s. South Korea’s motive might be entrusted between a North Korean, Japan and South Korean love-hate triangle. For as long as Japan stands weak, then South Korea has grounds to made treaties and keep peace with the North. Should the North feel threatened by Japan, they in turn would threaten South Korea, a major bargaining power provided in influence of China and the US.
The stronghold argument for Japan is balance of power. Japan compares her non-nuclear arsenal against that of China’s 150, North Korea’s 5 and South Korea’s enriched Uranium (IAEA’s report 2004). While there is speculation that the US houses mid-range nuclear weapons on bases within Japan, it is clean Japan has no control of the deployment or action of these. I ask of you, the reader, what makes a better argument; history of actions more than 60 years ago or the current state of being? Should Japan start building now, the most they could obtain is slightly defensive status against the unfathomed powers that rise around them. (This article was inspired by a noteworthy picture on Japanprobe: here)