The Samurai Abandons Pacifism

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade conducts a military drill in Gotemba at the foot of Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan on March 15.
David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Samurai Abandons Pacifism

At the end of World War ii, the United States forced Japan into adopting a new constitution that explicitly forbade Japan from “the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Japan never wholeheartedly embraced this part of the Constitution. Over the years it has evaded its strict enforcement, quietly rebuilding security measures. But by and large, Japan has been married to the title of pacifist.

On Friday, however, that marriage came to an end.

Japan announced it would double its defense spending to 2 percent of its gross domestic product by 2027. A 2 percent defense budget might seem negligible, but Japan is the world’s third-largest economy. This new budget would automatically make it the world’s third-highest spender on defense, after the U.S. and China, allowing it to completely reshape its entire defense strategy.

In Friday’s official announcement, Japan said the reason for the defense increase is the “challenge” posed by China. The world is in “the most severe and complex security environment” since the end of World War ii, it said, thus Japan is preparing “for the worst-case scenario.”

The reasoning is sound. As Japan has been relatively stagnant, China overtook it as the world’s second-largest economy and military. China has been building artificial islands throughout the Pacific, and its undying interest in acquiring Taiwan poses a direct threat to Japan. In addition, China’s ally North Korea has recently resumed lobbing missiles in and around Japanese waters.

So Japan is taking action. The new move will push Japanese spending well over $100 billion. It plans to bolster existing munitions, equipment, naval vessels and fighter aircraft. It also wants to overhaul its cyber systems. But most significantly, it plans on acquiring new counterstrike missile capabilities for long-range targets in the event of a direct enemy attack.

The U.S. has welcomed the news. “The new strategy anchors Japan firmly in the U.S. alliance,” the Wall Street Journal wrote. “Tokyo is America’s most important ally, and a militarily stronger Japan will enhance deterrence in the Pacific.”

According to the National Review, “Americans can be heartened by Japan’s rearmament.” But it also warned that the main reason Japan is rearming is because it has realized that U.S. security guarantees aren’t as convincing as they once were.

That’s exactly what the Plain Truth magazine, predecessor to the Trumpet, wrote in April 1968: “Japan tolerates her present form of government as long as it is economically expedient. If the time were ever to come—and it will come—that the Japanese could not feed off of American aid, we would witness a remarkable change in attitude toward the United States.”

Three years later, Plain Truth editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about the potential of the Samurai awakening: “Japan today has no military establishment. Some United States forces are still there. But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly.”

On Friday, Japan took some of its largest steps yet in doing just that.

To learn more, read our Trends article “Why the Trumpet Watches Japan’s March Toward Militarism.”