U.S. Can Mute Regional Effects of Rearmed Japan

U.S. Can Mute Regional Effects of Rearmed Japan

Japan's likely new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, will seek to amend the Japanese constitution to allow the country to use its military for non-defensive purposes. Combined with the material capabilities of the Japanese military and the perception that Japan glorifies World War II, the likelihood that Japan will be viewed as a regional threat is growing.

Both domestic and international factors are pushing Japan to amend the Constitution. Domestically, as in Germany, there is a growing belief in Japan that World War II is long past, and the country should no longer act like a chastened nation. Regionally, Japan is concerned about China's growing military power and North Korea's kidnappings, missile tests and nuclear rhetoric. Unlike Germany's neighbors, Japan's neighbors believe Japan has not atoned for its behavior in the war, which makes them suspicious of Japanese motives.

The drivers of this change are outside of American control, so the United States should not try to stop it. Instead, the United States should work cooperatively with Japan to reduce the chances of regional conflict.

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