Japan Wakes Up

Commentary The decoration of the cover of Japan’s just published 2021 Defense White Paper says it all. Last year’s white paper was covered by a photo of Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms. This year’s version features a 14th-century samurai riding toward the reader. Thus, is Japan at long last “taking the gloves off” as a Chicago street fighter or policeman might say? Since the end of WWII, article 9 of Japan’s constitution has been interpreted to ban any Japanese use of military force except in defending the homeland if it should ever be directly attacked. While Japan and the United States are parties to a so-called mutual defense treaty, the reality is that until now it has been a unilateral commitment by the United States to defend Japan. For this purpose, Japan has allowed U.S. forces to be based in and operate out of Japan. Thus, for example, the U.S. …

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