Japan’s Place in the Future

A recent report suggested that Japan could go nuclear in months. Where will Japan fit into the developing global geopolitical situation?
From the February 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

For the past 50 years, a strong relationship between the U.S. and Japan has guaranteed economic and military security in East Asia. But now it seems that Japan’s leaders are increasingly edging away from that partnership.

Unable to fix its own deflationary economic spiral, is it possible that Japan may revive its economy by taking a more independent approach to security in East Asia? Any separation from the U.S. would require Japan to crank up its defense spending. This could be just what Japan needs to mend its economic sickness.

The problem is, Japanese militarism has a dangerous history. Its most recent resurgence was only halted by nuclear bombing in 1945.

Awakening the Samurai

Today, Japan boasts one of the top five military arsenals in the world as well as the world’s second-largest navy. Despite the presence of regional tensions in North Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia, Japan—with all its industrial, economic and naval strength—has, until quite recently, seemingly remained a benign power, constrained by memories of the nuclear disaster that followed its past imperial ambitions. But, as has been the case with so many other nations, the events of September 11, 2001, are altering the Japanese mentality.

Just one month following 9/11, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi adopted anti-terrorism legislation in the Diet that established provisions for Japanese military support to U.S. forces. Since then, Japanese troops have supplied logistical support for America’s declared war on terrorism.

Japan’s ability to enter a battle theater so readily is attributable to a situation not easily appreciated by many in the West. Look beneath the surface and you will find that Japan has not, in reality, really been the benign power that its image has conveyed since its defeat in World War ii. Japan has for decades evaded the strict enforcement of Article 9 of the constitutional law imposed by America after World War ii, which states unequivocally that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. … [L]and, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, WILL NEVER BE MAINTAINED” (emphasis ours throughout). Article 9 has not had the effect its designers intended, or else Japan would not have amassed such a large military infrastructure under the pacifist banner of “self defense.”

“For many years Japan’s Self Defense Forces have been laying the groundwork for this new era. Japan has a small army—although it is larger than most people imagine—but more important, Japan’s military industrial capability is much greater than is generally assumed.

“Japan has already created some of the most advanced weapons in the world and knows how to mass-produce them. Japan’s emergence as a great military power in the future depends more on its will than its ability. In order to have a world-class military force in a few short years, Japan merely has to decide that it needs one” (George Friedman and Meredith Lebard, The Coming War With Japan).

With North Korea threatening recently to “destroy the world” via its nuclear capability, Japan is taking advantage of this serious regional security threat to position itself as the representative of U.S. interests in the area. It would not be surprising to see the U.S. even encourage Japan to obtain nuclear capability under the guise of self defense!

Japan knows that the U.S. is beginning to stretch beyond its logistical capability. America is ill-prepared to fight a war on two fronts, despite Washington’s recent rhetoric to the contrary. This situation is bound to ultimately spur the Japanese into action to develop an equal and opposite offensive capability to those of its North Korean, Chinese and Russian neighbors. It simply must enter the balance-of-power equation in the Far East, as the U.S., its protector for the past half-century, is stretched thin in its global war on terror.

Third Global Power Bloc

Across the China Sea from the land of the rising sun, a dragon awakens. Mythological dragons may be known to fall asleep at the entrance to their caverns, but they are certainly not known for their weakness. The Chinese dragon has long been, it might seem, slumberously watching U.S. global dominance give way to the emerging European Union. But it knows that a third global power bloc in the East will be needed as a counterweight.

Only two nations have the power potential to lead such a bloc: China and Japan.

Suddenly a power shift has begun in Asia. The first step came in the form of a proposal to create a Free Trade Area between China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The second step was taken at the China/ASEAN summit in Cambodia in November last year with the signing of a Framework Agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation, to be negotiated in detail over the coming decade. The agreement positions China at the apex of an Asian bloc of nearly 2 billion consumers having a combined GDP of $2 trillion. Upon its completion this new Asian bloc would be the world’s largest free trade zone.

Where does this leave Japan? Though it has one of the world’s largest independent economies, it continues to be hamstrung by the failure of successive governments to confront the need for painful economic restructuring.

In an attempt to create the aura of Japanese leadership within Asia, Prime Minister Koizumi noted that he envisaged ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea (together comprising a third of the world’s market and making up 20 percent of global trade) emerging as a major driving force within the global economy. Koizumi went as far as saying, “Northeast Asian cooperation would call for an end to the sense of rivalry between Japan and China and the beginning of a new age of partnership and co-existence” (Business Times, Singapore, Nov. 6, 2002). Japan knows that it cannot continue such overt rivalry if it is to have anywhere near the influence in the East Asian sphere that the size of its economy and industrial weight demand.

The recent political and economic coup by China may seem, for the present, to have positioned it as the leader in Asia and relegated Japan to the role of a follower. But all it would take is a major regional crisis to spur the Japanese into action to throw, in particular, their naval might into the breech as a guarantor of security to their neighbors. Japan has this powerful tool to use as a trade-off in negotiations for economic cooperation from the rest of Asia.

The prospect of the continued expansion of the EU into a combined bloc larger and more powerful than the U.S. and Russia, and the perceived weakening of U.S. global influence, is driving China and its Asian neighbors to put into place counter-measures which will position them as the next great global power bloc. Both China and Japan will combine in Asian alliances, with the ultimate intention of forcing the U.S. out of the western Pacific. Then, as has been the strategy of the EU, Asian political and economic cooperation will ultimately progress to a military and security alliance.

The West is in decline. The U.S. has demonstrated too often that, while it may have power, it lacks the political will to use it. No nation possessing such an inherent distaste for the loss of its warriors in battle can remain at the top for long. Within a very short time, the U.S. will be overtaken in political will and influence by a gigantic European Union. The rest of the world will see this and increasingly thumb their nose at America.

The U.S. is too blind to see the writing on the wall. Islam is on the rise globally. The European beast power is almost ready to roll. The kings of the East are becoming restless. Anti-Americanism is reaching fever pitch in some nations. Next to the Jews, Anglo-Americans are becoming the most hated of peoples throughout the non-English-speaking world. As a result, U.S. influence in and access to the Korean Peninsula, Chinese and Soviet coasts, Asian-Pacific sea-lanes, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Micronesia, Polynesia and Papua New Guinea will soon evaporate.

Filling the Power Vacuum

Who will fill the power vacuum?

Despite the overwhelming size of China’s population and its great economic potential, Japan has the most highly developed economy in the region. Japan has the (presently underutilized) industrial capacity developed to the point that it could easily match the U.S. and the EU in high-tech weapons development and production. Japan is the only Far East nation possessing a blue-water navy of significance.

Sixty years ago, Japan sought to impose its hegemony via military might. Six decades of decolonization, development and growth in the Far East means that Japan now faces a vastly different and more powerful China and a much more industrialized collective Asian sphere. It must fulfill its goals using means vastly different from those of the 1940s. Any dominant influence that Japan now seeks in the Eastern Hemisphere must be done via ALLIANCES and TREATIES. And this will involve a nuclear alliance! “But there can be no doubt that if Japan saw fit to become a nuclear power, it could do so in less than a year’s time—without American help and borrowed nukes and to China’s certain chagrin. There is also a fast-growing body of opinion in Japan saying that that’s precisely what the country should do” (Asia Times, Jan. 14).

Watch for the East Asian alliances to develop economically and militarily. Watch for coming agreements between Japan, South Korea and China to harness the maverick North Korea and muscle the U.S. out of oriental diplomacy in Korea and Taiwan. Watch for a third great power bloc to emerge in the East, to balance the power of the expanding European Union and the volatile Islamic tide. The new order of global powers is emerging precisely as depicted in Bible prophecy.