Why Japan, Long Wary of Military Power, Is Rethinking Its Posture

Why Japan, Long Wary of Military Power, Is Rethinking Its Posture
Members of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force aim their rifles towards the sky during a rehearsal ahead of a memorial ceremony commemorating those who died during World War II, as they sail past the Sulu Sea, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Emily Wang).

In the wake of World War II, the U.S. helped Japan draft a new constitution that forever renounced the use of military force as a means of settling international disputes. Japan has nonetheless maintained a well-equipped military for the purposes of self-defense, even while largely relying on the security umbrella provided by U.S. forces in the region.

In a book that came out in April, Sheila Smith, the senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, makes a compelling case that Tokyo is now reevaluating that security posture in response to a militarily ascendant China, a nuclear North Korea and an erratic and unreliable Trump administration. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, she joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman for a conversation on the evolution of Japan’s postwar military strategy.

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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