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04 Mar 2016
How Japan Can Finally Say "No"

In 1990, the controversial right-wing Governor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintaro, published "The Japan That could Say No: Why Japan Will probably be First Among Equals". Nearly 20 years later, many Japanese are nevertheless pondering if or when Japan can "say no" on the United States, the target of Ishihara's book. Since end of The second world war (WWII), Japan did closely with the United states of america on issues of East Asian security. Still, if America is just not careful in addressing Japanese concerns, specially in regard to North Korea, this could create a tipping point in U.S. - Japanese relations, where Tokyo significantly breaks with Washington over foreign policy.


Many in the Japanese government have long wished to take a harder line with North Korea. Some hardliners have even suggested a full remilitarization of Japan, including nuclear capability. Although the majority of the population is still anti-nuclear and support maintaining your military (SDF) as a defense force, the share of those who do is declining yearly. This too reflects the growing number of Japanese who will no longer feel burdened with the legacy of The second world war Japanese Imperialism or the necessity of an American security umbrella.

In Asia, Japan's military funding is second simply to China's. It is also highly regarded internationally, particularly for its naval capabilities. Currently, the SDF has about 240,000 uniformed troops. As a result of constitutional restrictions, written in by America after WWII, asia military has been restricted to defensive capability only. Force projection technologies, such as aircraft carriers, are prohibited.

Because the first Gulf War, America may be encouraging the Japanese to push the word "defense", not to promote an impartial Japanese foreign policy, way more to offset the costs to America in mounting these kind of operations. There is more on the contemporary relationship compared to the multi-billion dollar ballistic missile shield being put in place to prevent a potential strike by North Korea (or China). Lately, the usa and Japans' joint military trainings have centered on coordinated attacks; a skill that would be needed for japan to contribute to missions just like what the U.S. has undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the last few years, Japan has sent its navy for the Red Sea to battle pirates as part of an international force, to monitor North Korean missile activity, and aid the refueling of ships inside the Indian Ocean. Japan has sent ground troops to Iraq to supply humanitarian aid. This modification is partially a direct result Japan having been criticized for "checkbook diplomacy" due to not committing troops to Desert Storm. This is a reason for contention, as the Japanese government feels world war 2 would not have been possible without their financing. Japan in addition has given the second largest quantity of wartime assistance to Iraq between 2004 and 2006 as well as a similarly large amount to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2006.

North Korea

On April 5, 2009, north of manchester Korean government launched, what it claims to have been, the experimental communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 while on an Unha-2 rocket. Since 1957, most ICBMs started out satellite launchers, and this too, was likely a cover for a Taepodong-2 or 3 ballistic missile test, which has the ability to strike anywhere in the Japanese archipelago. The truth is, the missile flew over Japanese airspace. This is North Korea's first long-range missile test since its two failed attempts in 2006 and 1998. North Korea's 1998 missile test prompted the UN Security Council to express concerns in an informal press statement. The 2006 tests ended in the Security Council adopting a resolution to prohibit North Korea from conducting testing.

North Korea's test has not been happenstance; it was a purposeful ploy to escalate tensions. Its northern border wants to solidify its status as being a nuclear power by demonstrating its capacity to launch ballistic missiles capable of transporting a nuclear warhead. Kim Jong Il also really wants to play China and Russia off up against the new Obama Administration, Japan, and Columbia to gain negotiating leverage at any renewed 6-party talks. The missile site at Tongchangri was outfitted to submit both intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and satellites. Additionally, it may test launch missiles without flying over Japanese airspace. Instead, North Korea launched from Musudan-ri. Even though the missile test would have been a failure it appeared to travel further than previous missiles.

The bucks strapped Kim Regime even offers incurred a current account deficit for Half a century. In earlier decades, the Ussr primarily funded these deficits, but since its collapse, China and South Korea have become its major options for subsistence, along with U.S. currency counterfeiting; weapons sales; drug trafficking; and remittances from Japanese born Koreans (Zainichi). Kim needs these cash infusions to secure the loyalty with the military and party members. Cash flows have grown to be even worse in recent years due to sanctions and the lack of Libya and Pakistan as weapons buyers after 9-11. A Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, reported that 15 Iranians arrived in North Korea to see the latest missile test; chances are they are potential buyers.


The Japanese government's response to it is been typically subdued. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has said that a launch by North Korea will be a violation of U . n . resolution 1718. At the most recent G20 meeting london, he also called for a brand new UN resolution against North Korea. There will also be an extension of Japanese sanctions against North Korea, such as a ban on North Korean ships entering Japanese ports and importation of North Korean goods, as well as a crack down on bank transfers in the Zainichi community. Tokyo has refused to join the other six-party members in providing fuel oil to North Korea within the "denuclearization-for-aid deal", citing a lack of progress around the "abduction issue", North Koreans having kidnapped Japanese citizens during the Cold War. This long-standing dispute has become a major obstacle to normalizing between Japan and North Korea.


The SDF replied to the proposed missile launch by stating that it might shoot down a rocket flying over Japanese airspace. Japan's warships have Aegis combat systems, which help them to track and shoot down missiles, nevertheless the SDF quickly backtracked, stating it is going to only launch interceptors if debris from a failed Korean missile appears likely to hit Japanese territory. Japan fired no interceptors in the event the April 5th test missile few over Southern Honshu.

Certainly one of Tokyo's greatest concerns, is the U.S. will proceed to a de facto acceptance of North Korea's nuclear status, which is an unacceptable position that may sour U.S. - Japanese relations, along with global nonproliferation efforts. This is the point at which Japan may not only remilitarize but also go nuclear.

The U.S.

In 1994, the United States and North Korea signed a framework where the North Koreans agreed to turn off their nuclear facilities and accept weapons inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency in return for normalized relations with all the United States and large sums in aid and fuel from Japan, Columbia and the U.S. 15 years later, the U.S. remains to be trying to get North Korea to check out this agreement.

Asia have made the Obama administration fully aware that Japan disagreed together with the Bush Administration removing North Korea through the terrorism list and how this has complicated negotiations. Likewise, okazaki, japan have been informed that this U.S. gives priority to the nuclear proliferation issue on the Japanese abduction issue. Not surprisingly, Secretary Clinton visited with abductees families in Tokyo to be with her last visit. This signaled that the U.S. understood Japanese concerns, however, not much else.

It is widely supported Japan that the Bush Administration engaged China in the expense of Japan, particularly if Bush visited China before Japan in his last trip to the Pacific Rim. The National government, cognizant of this, sent Secretary of State Clinton to Asia on her behalf first trip abroad. Stopping first in Japan was viewed as a reaffirmation of the U.S.-Japan alliance. This act was supposedly confirmed through the subsequent visit of Pm Taro Aso to the United States, but some Japanese complained that this visit received little in the usual fan fair, citing this as a show of disrespect to Japan.

A prospective Future

North Korea has repeatedly violated Japanese airspace; purposefully imports illegal drugs into Japan; admitted to abducting Japanese citizens from Japanese soil; and contains made several military threats against Japan. Within the latest round of threats, North Korea mentioned that "the Korean People's Army will mercilessly deal deadly blows not only at the already deployed intercepting means but at major targets [in Japan, etc.]." If any nation behaved in this way toward the United States it will undoubtedly be considered a provocation worthy of an immediate and severe military response. Japan should not just have to be prepared to follow America's lead. Japan can tell, "No"! The best way to do this is always to make it immediately clear the SDF will shoot down any missile that violates Japanese airspace that will come from North Korea, because it is a violation of previous UN resolutions. Japan ought not ask permission to safeguard its citizens as well as the territorial integrity of its nation, America; Russia; and China definitely may not.

During the presidential campaign, Obama stated that he expected North Korea to reside in up to the terms previously agreed on or harsh actions would be taken in addition to current sanctions. Japan should hold Obama to this particular promise by pressuring America to accomplish two things. Firstly, the U.S. should insist that this UN Security Council adopt a whole new resolution which makes sanctions mandatory and authorizes military enforcement be studied if North Korea continues its present course. Any sanctions will likely be useless if Russia and China usually do not approve. It is highly unlikely the U.S. and Japan will be able to obtain the cooperation of Russia and China, because are hesitant to say that quality violates any UN resolutions, due to Pyongyang's claim of a satellite launch. Not surprisingly, the U.S. should at least make the effort. Second, any Six-Party Talks agreements must contain a contract by North Korea to create a joint committee with Japan to reinvestigate the abductions of Japanese citizens in return for Japan lifting its sanctions. Asia have the leverage to take action; the only question is if the Japanese leadership has got the will.

Japan's leverage is caused by the fact that the United States needs Japan. The U.S. needs Japan to contribute to its triangulation strategy involving the Indian and Australian navies, a shot to check China's ambitions within the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Japan can hurt the U.S. by providing more weight to China's wish to use IMF SDR's as a true international reserve currency to replace the dollar. Japan can also threaten to reduce its American military presence, especially in Okinawa. Japan can threaten to offer certain military technologies who's produces to China and Russia. Lastly, Japan could threaten to travel nuclear if it feels the U.S. is not adequately promoting its national security interests in regards to North Korea.

For Japan's part, it ought to do more to ascertain an independent international personality, outside of the financial realm. Japan can accomplish this by modifying their constitution by way of a campaign targeting Japanese national pride, to enable them to commit more troops to UN Peacekeeping operations. They must work more closely with China and function a go-between for Washington and Beijing. They'll have more room to negotiate with China when they've a true military power status more independent through the U.S. This leverage may be used to gain a concession from China on Japan's ascension for the U.N. Security Council, in return Japan must stop blocking greater Chinese participation in a variety of international financial groups. If Japan would like to be a leader in Asia it requires to speak for Asia rather than just expect Washington's Asia policy to become synonymous with Washington's Japanese policy.