How Japan Can Finally Say “No”

How Japan Can Finally Say “No”

In 1990, the controversial right-wing Governor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintaro, published “The Japan That will Say No: Why Japan Will Be First Among Equals”. Nearly Twenty years later, many Japanese remain pondering if or when Japan can “say no” for the United States, the target of Ishihara’s book. Because the end of The second world war (WWII), Japan did closely with the Usa on issues of East Asian security. Still, if America isn’t careful in addressing Japanese concerns, particularly in regard to North Korea, this may create a tipping reason for U.S. – Japanese relations, where Tokyo significantly breaks with Washington over foreign policy.


Many inside the Japanese government have long desired to take a harder line with North Korea. Some hardliners have even suggested a full remilitarization of Japan, including nuclear capability. Even though the majority of the population is still anti-nuclear and support keeping the military (SDF) as a defense force, the proportion of those who do is declining yearly. This also reflects the growing variety of Japanese who not feel burdened with all the legacy of World war 2 Japanese Imperialism or the demand 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. Because of constitutional restrictions, written in by America after WWII, the Japanese military has been restricted to defensive capability only. Force projection technologies, like aircraft carriers, are prohibited.

Since first Gulf War, America has been encouraging the Japanese to push the phrase “defense”, not to promote a completely independent Japanese foreign policy, more so to offset the costs to America in mounting these types of operations. There is more on the contemporary relationship compared to multi-billion dollar ballistic missile shield being executed to prevent a potential strike by North Korea (or China). Lately, the us and Japans’ joint military trainings have dedicated to coordinated attacks; an art form that would be needed for asia to contribute to missions similar to what the U.S. has undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the last few years, Japan has sent its navy to the Red Sea to combat pirates as part of an international force, to monitor North Korean missile activity, and also to aid the refueling of ships within the Indian Ocean. Japan has also sent ground troops to Iraq to provide humanitarian aid. This modification is partially due to Japan having been criticized for “checkbook diplomacy” as a result of not committing troops to abandon Storm. This is a reason for contention, as the Japanese government feels world war 2 would not have been possible without their financing. Japan has additionally given the second largest level of wartime assistance to Iraq between 2004 and 2006 and a similarly large amount to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2006.

North Korea

On April 5, 2009, its northern border Korean government launched, what it claims to have been, the experimental communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 by using an Unha-2 rocket. Since 1957, most ICBMs started out satellite launchers, and this too, was likely a canopy for a Taepodong-2 or 3 ballistic missile test, which has the ability to strike anywhere in the Japanese archipelago. In fact, the missile flew over Japanese airspace. It was North Korea’s first long-range missile test since its two failed attempts in the year 2006 and 1998. North Korea’s 1998 missile test prompted the UN Security Council expressing concerns in an informal press statement. The 2006 tests triggered the Security Council adopting a resolution to prohibit North Korea from conducting testing.

North Korea’s test was not happenstance; it was a purposeful ploy to escalate tensions. North of manchester 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 would like to play China and Russia off from the new Obama Administration, Japan, and Mexico 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. This may also test launch missiles without flying over Japanese airspace. Instead, North Korea launched from Musudan-ri. Although missile test was obviously a failure it seemed to travel further than previous missiles.

The bucks strapped Kim Regime boasts incurred a current account deficit for Half a century. In earlier decades, the Soviet Union primarily funded these deficits, but since its collapse, China and South Korea have become its major sources of 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 in the military and party members. Cash flows have become even worse in recent years on account of sanctions and the decrease of Libya and Pakistan as weapons buyers after 9-11. A Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, reported that 15 Iranians arrived at North Korea to observe the latest missile test; it is likely they are potential buyers.


Okazaki, japan government’s response to it has been typically subdued. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has said that a launch by North Korea has to be violation of United Nations resolution 1718. At the most recent G20 meeting london, he also called for a brand new UN resolution against North Korea. You’ll also have an extension of Japanese sanctions against North Korea, that include a ban on North Korean ships entering Japanese ports and importation of most North Korean goods, and also a crack down on bank transfers through the Zainichi community. Tokyo has refused to join the opposite six-party members in providing fuel oil to North Korea under the “denuclearization-for-aid deal”, citing a lack of progress about 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 answered the proposed missile launch by praoclaiming that it might shoot down a rocket flying over Japanese airspace. Japan’s warships include Aegis combat systems, which assist them to track and shoot down missiles, nevertheless the SDF quickly backtracked, stating it is going to only launch interceptors if debris from the failed Korean missile appears more likely to hit Japanese territory. Japan fired no interceptors if the April 5th test missile few over Southern Honshu.

Certainly one of Tokyo’s greatest concerns, could be that the U.S. will move to a de facto acceptance of North Korea’s nuclear status, which will be an unacceptable position that will sour U.S. – Japanese relations, along with global nonproliferation efforts. This would be the point at which Japan might not exactly only remilitarize but also go nuclear.

The U.S.

In 1994, america and North Korea signed a framework the place that the North Koreans agreed to power down their nuclear facilities and accept weapons inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency in return for normalized relations together with the United States and large sums in aid and fuel from Japan, The philipines and the U.S. 20 years later, the U.S. remains to be trying to get North Korea to stick to this agreement.

The Japanese have made the Obama administration fully aware that Japan disagreed with the Bush Administration removing North Korea from your terrorism list and how it’s complicated negotiations. Likewise, asia have been informed the U.S. gives priority to the nuclear proliferation issue on the Japanese abduction issue. In spite of this, Secretary Clinton visited with abductees families in Tokyo to be with her last visit. This signaled how the U.S. understood Japanese concerns, but not much else.

It is widely supported Japan that the Bush Administration engaged China in the expense of Japan, especially when Bush visited China before Japan during his last trip to the Pacific Rim. The Current, cognizant of this, sent Secretary of State Clinton to Asia to be with her first trip abroad. Stopping first in Japan was seen as reaffirmation of the U.S.-Japan alliance. This act was supposedly confirmed from the subsequent visit of Prime Minister Taro Aso to the United States, but some Japanese complained that the visit received little with the usual fan fair, citing this being a show of disrespect to Japan.

A potential 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. From the latest round of threats, North Korea claimed that “the Korean People’s Army will mercilessly deal deadly blows not just at the already deployed intercepting means but at major targets [in Japan, etc.].” If any nation behaved using this method toward the United States it might undoubtedly be considered a provocation deserving of an immediate and severe military response. Japan must not just have to be happy to follow America’s lead. Japan will say, “No”! The best way to do this is to make it immediately clear how the SDF will shoot down any missile that violates Japanese airspace that will come from North Korea, since it is a violation of previous UN resolutions. Japan ought not ask permission to guard its citizens and 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 up to the terms previously agreed on or harsh actions can be taken in addition to current sanctions. Japan should hold Obama to this particular promise by pressuring America to do two things. Firstly, the U.S. should insist the UN Security Council adopt a new resolution which makes sanctions mandatory and authorizes military enforcement be studied if North Korea continues its present course. Any sanctions will probably be useless if Russia and China don’t approve. It is highly unlikely the U.S. and Japan are able to obtain the cooperation of Russia and China, because are hesitant to say that the test violates any UN resolutions, because of Pyongyang’s claim of a satellite launch. Regardless of this, the U.S. should at the very least make the effort. Second, any Six-Party Talks agreements must contain a legal contract by North Korea to setup a joint committee with Japan to reinvestigate the abductions of Japanese citizens to acquire Japan lifting its sanctions. Asia have the leverage to take action; the only question is when the Japanese leadership contains the will.

Japan’s leverage is because of the fact that the United States needs Japan. The U.S. needs Japan to contribute to its triangulation strategy concerning the Indian and Australian navies, an attempt to check China’s ambitions from the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Japan can hurt the U.S. by giving 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, specially in Okinawa. Japan can threaten to trade certain military technologies who’s produces to China and Russia. Lastly, Japan could threaten to look nuclear if it feels the U.S. is just not adequately promoting its national security interests when it comes to North Korea.

For Japan’s part, it should do more to create an independent international personality, outside of the financial realm. Okazaki, japan can accomplish this by modifying their constitution by way of a campaign targeting Japanese national pride, so that they can commit more troops to UN Peacekeeping operations. They ought to work more closely with China and serve as a go-between for Washington and Beijing. They will have more room to negotiate with China whether they have a true military power status more independent from your U.S. This leverage can be used to gain a concession from China on Japan’s ascension towards the U.N. Security Council, but also in return Japan must stop blocking greater Chinese participation in various international financial groups. If Japan wants to be a leader in Asia it must speak for Asia and not simply expect Washington’s Asia policy to be synonymous with Washington’s Japanese policy.


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