The Guardian • Issue #2039

Japan’s dangerous military expansion

Photo: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). (CC BY 2.0)

On December 16 last year, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a new defence strategy that doubled Japan’s military spending by 2027. The biggest military build-up since World War II includes a plan that will buy missiles capable of striking China.

Defence spending will escalate to two per cent of gross domestic product, equal to the goal the US sets for its NATO allies. The five-year plan will make the country the world’s third-biggest military spender after the United States and China.

The decision for aggressive military expansion is in open violation of Japan’s supposedly pacifist constitution.

Alarm bells

Japan’s dangerous military expansion should set off international alarm bells.

This major escalation is the next step in the US “pivot to Asia,” aimed at threatening China and attempting to maintain US dominance in the region.

At a meeting, Kishida and Biden are reported to have agreed “to work together to transform Japan into a potent military power to help counterbalance China and to bolster the alliance between the two nations so that it becomes the linchpin for their security interests in Asia.”

Radical and dangerous

Asahi, one of Japan’s largest dailies, called Kishida’s plan a “radical and dangerous departure from the past,” accusing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of “rushing headlong into beefing up the nation’s military muscle without developing plans or taking actions to improve the environment for building peace.”

The paper attacked the new counter strike capabilities, saying they would “eviscerate the nation’s long-established principle of sticking to a strictly defensive security policy.”

After World War II, the US occupation force imposed a “pacifist” constitution on Japan; Article 9 prohibits Japan from maintaining an army, navy and air force. To get around this, the “Japanese Self-Defence Forces” have since 1952 been treated as a legal extension of the police and prison system.

Mass rallies of hundreds of thousands have mobilised many times in defence of Article 9.

The widespread opposition to constitutional change comes from working people, mobilised by unions and the communist and socialist movements.


The island of Okinawa, 400 miles from the Japanese mainland, is closer to Taiwan than it is to the main islands of Japan. Okinawa suffers from the negative social, environmental and other impacts of 31 US military bases on the island.

Upgrading of Japan’s 15th Brigade on these islands for future electronic warfare, cyber warfare and joint operations on the ground with maritime and air forces is a sign of plans to intervene in the Taiwan Strait.

More than 50,000 US troops remain as an occupying force in Japan. More than half of them are based on Okinawa. Okinawa residents, the indigenous Ryukyu people, have spent decades protesting the constant impacts of the US military in their daily lives.

Corporate profits

Mitsubishi, BAE Systems, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and other armaments corporations will reap super profits from selling weapons for Japan’s rearmament.

Japanese workers will see their services cut to pay for interceptor missiles, attack and reconnaissance drones, satellite communications equipment, F-35 stealth fighters, helicopters, submarines, warships and heavy-lift transport jets, together with 500 Tomahawk missiles and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, more naval vessels, fighter aircraft, increased cyber-warfare capabilities hypersonic missiles and advanced fighter jets.

Anti-China campaign

Japan’s anti-China propaganda is in full swing with the Japanese Embassy in Canberra leading the anti-China campaign in Australia.

Japanese Ambassador Shingo Yamagami has made the Japanese Embassy the meeting place for anti-China politicians, academics, media, defence officials and selected Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) staff.

This antagonising and demonising of China has got to stop!

China is not a threat to Australia or to any other country, especially Japan.

China is not the enemy.

The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More