July 18, 2019

The Return of Japanese Militarism

“After its disastrous defeat in World War II, Tokyo renounced years of warfare in favor of a pacifist outlook, vowing to only use force to protect the Japanese homeland in the event of an attack — never to wage war on an enemy unprovoked. Which means the Izumo announcement signals quite the sea change. In recent years, Japan’s political leaders have tried to break the country out of its post-war shell. Today, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — a conservative, nationalist hawk — may be on the verge of doing just that.

Altering the Izumo is a case in point. His administration took an already capable ship and approved a subtle yet important tweak that will make the vessel far more formidable militarily. It’s the kind of decision that, had it happened in decades past, would have led most of Japanese society to label Abe a warmonger.

But times have changed. Helped by an aggressive China, a growing North Korean nuclear threat, and his firm control over the government, Abe has found ways to bolster his nation’s forces with minimal domestic blowback. His administration passed a law allowing Japan to defend allies, approved a new muscular defense plan, and could soon amend its war-renouncing constitution to formalize the nation’s armed forces’ existence.”

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