Should Japan revise Article 9 of its Constitution?

After World War II, Japan was forbidden to have a military. Article 9 of the post-war Constitution (日本国憲法第9条, Nihonkokukenpō dai 9-jō) outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes involving the State. The Constitution went into effect on May 3, 1947.

Article 9 of the Constitution

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pushed to amend Japan’s constitution to allow the country to have a full-fledged military. The act, if succeeded, would likely provoke Japan’s neighbors, China and North and South Korea, and bring tension to the area.

Ultimately, Abe was not able to muster enough support to amend the Constitution. He resigned in 2020 citing health reason.  On July 8, 2022, he was assassinated by a gunman while campaigning for his Liberal Democratic Party. His supporters vowed to make his dreams a reality someday.  

Although Japan does not have an offensive military, it has strong Self-Defense Forces (SDF), established in 1954 at the end of the Allied Occupation. 

Japan’s Self-defense forces  

Japan has the ability to defend itself.  Article 9 allowed for self-defense forces of 150,000, which have been expanded to 270,000. While this may be small in comparison to other countries in the area, it serves its purpose for defense, not aggression. If the force was used for anything other than defense, it would be unconstitutional.

Japan’s SDF consists of a ground defense force with infantry capabilities that are tasked with national defense and disaster recovery operations (e.g., the 2011 tsunami and earthquake recovery operations.)

Their maritime/naval force has destroyer-class vessels, anti-nuclear weapon/anti-submarine/anti-mine units with designated personnel and advanced aircrafts, as well as a maritime counter-terrorist component that is comparable to U.S. Navy SEALs.

The Air self-defense force has aircrafts that are identical to the intercept/fighter aircraft used by the U.S.

Even though these forces are for national protection only, Japan can circumvent the law if need be. The SDF can send its forces abroad to protect Japan’s international interests. For example, Japan took part in self-defense/security operations in Somalia and Iraq.

In conclusion, Japan has a fully functioning military that is ultimately beefed up by its alliance with the U.S.  

Question:  Should Japan revise Article 9 of its constitution and have a full-fledged military?

Read the following editorial opinion by political scientist Koichi Nakano:

     ..\Japan-articles\06 Stop praising Shinzo Abe.docx

Do some research of your own. Then present your opinion in a couple of paragraphs. Back up your YES or NO with reasons. See the tips below on how to do this assignment.  

            Points to consider: 

  • The opinion of the Japanese people – Do they want to change the status quo and give up their pacifist stance that they have enjoyed since the end of WWII?
  • Japan’s relations with her neighbors: China, North and South Korea.
  • If Japan acquired an offensive military, will it lead to an arm race in Asia?
  • Economic consequences if Japan offends China. 
  • The fact that Japan already has self-defense forces and therefore is not totally defenseless. 
  • North Korea’s threat – could it be solved by the use of an aggressive military?
  • Hostage crisis – again, could it be solved by military means?  For example, United States has the strongest military in the world, but American and British citizens have been beheaded by ISIS and we were not able to save them.

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