Japan and military revamp to meet a changing geopolitical landscape: US estrangement

Japan and military revamp to meet a changing geopolitical landscape: US estrangement

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is intent on developing the armed forces of this nation, in order to face a changing geopolitical and military landscape. Hence, a new military base will unify the fighting potential of Japan based on decision-making, deployment of different forces under a centralized command, and other important areas.

Itsunori Onodera, the Defense Minister of Japan, uttered, “We are expecting more situations in which the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces have to work together to rapidly respond at a nationwide level against ballistic missile launches, attacks on islands and major disasters.”

In relation to China, Onodera commented that the “unilateral escalation is a matter of strong concern.”

Another important factor, even if not mentioned openly, is the recent estrangement of America’s foreign policy. This applies to the Russian Federation, Iran, and Turkey playing a more important role in Syria rather than America. Equally, America is having rocky relations with former strong allies, for example, Egypt is increasingly focused on the Russian Federation, the nation of China is deemed more favorable in Pakistan, and Turkey is at loggerheads with America in Northern Syria based on the Kurdish issue. Not surprisingly, Japan is a little confused by the direction of America given the prevailing conditions.

Also, recent policies by America, with regards to the Korean Peninsula, highlight that Japan’s position was sidelined out of hand. In other words, Japan may believe in a special relationship with America but it seems that the last two leaders of America, just like Bill Clinton a few decades ago, have different ideas. Therefore, while Japan will focus much of its military revamp to be fused with American forces based throughout the country, it is equally true that Japan must focus on the day when its armed forces solely protect the nation.

Of course, the above isn’t openly stated but the continuing rise of China’s economy and the aloofness of President Donald Trump of America all equates to changing times. At the same time, the Russian Federation is no longer the weak link in Northeast Asia. Hence, it is high time for Japan to focus much greater attention on regional democracies and shared geopolitical concerns. This notably applies to nations that include Australia, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and other democratic nations throughout the Asia Pacific region – even if America will continue to be the backbone for the foreseeable future.

Hence, the Ground Component Command of the armed forces of Japan is being forged internally and to meet the external demands of America in relation to complementary factors. The Ground Self-Defense Forces of Japan will now unify the five regional armies that have been a constant theme since the convulsions of World War Two. At the same time, an expanded ambitious amphibious brigade is aimed at protecting the multiple islands and islets that dot the geopolitical landscape of Japan.

It is equally important for Japan to build more of its military component rather than having an over-reliance on America. Hence, while the military capabilities of Japan are realigned with the armed forces of America that are stationed in this nation, the day may arise when Japan is either more independent – or America isolates itself to a much higher degree based on internal factors. Therefore, while the new internal centralizing changes of the armed forces of Japan are in tandem with America, it is equally true to say that the continuing upgrade of the armed forces of Japan will lead to greater independence in the long-term.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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