Last September, Japan’s parliament introduced new laws that would allow for a broader interpretation of Article 9, a clause in the country’s constitution that strictly limits military action to self defense. The changes were met with protest both domestically and internationally. In Japan, many citizens worried openly about the risk of combat violence and, more generally, the rise of reactionary governance in the country. The Chinese government has also objected, saying through state-controlled media that the legislative shift is a “brutal violation” of peaceful development and regional stability. South Korea expressed concern as well.
Despite these concerns, however, many experts believe worries of World War II-style militarization are overstated.
“[There’s] no big difference from last year, or the year before,” Yuki Tatsumi, an East Asia senior associate at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., said. Tatsumi believes that changes to Japan’s pacifist stance are mostly embellished, and that even prior to the controversial reinterpretation of Article 9 the country was already concerned with “gray zone” emergencies. These threats — defined as those requiring robust law-enforcement activities but short of armed provocation by a foreign military — include maritime disputes with China and brinksmanship over North Korea’s nuclear development.
Read more here.