The threat of North Korea armed with nuclear missiles capable of hitting Japan is spurring changes in thinking about national security in Japan.
For the first time in three generations a shift in public opinion has rendered ordinary the discussion of a more assertive Japan and left defenders of the "peace Constitution" on the defensive.
While China's expanding power is a growing concern, the most immediate spur for this change has been a year of starkly increased tensions with North Korea, which already possesses ballistic missiles and is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Attitudes toward self defense are changing in Japan. Prime Minister Koizumi wants to rename the Self Defense Forces to a less peaceful sounding name. He also wants to organize a National Security Council patterned after the US equivalent. Japan is also spending to develop power projection capabilities include in-air refueling and pair of helicopter aircraft carriers which, due to opposition from Japanese pacifists, the Japanese government call destroyers.
It is not inconceivable that Japan and South Korea could go nuclear within a decade in response to North Korea's development of nuclear bombs. Taiwan would take this as justification for its own right to go nuclear. On the bright side this would effectively protect Taiwan from an attempt by China to force Taiwan to accept China's rule.
The biggest problem this outcome would pose for the United States is that a nuclear-armed North Korea would eventually have enough nuclear weapons to be able to sell some to Middle Eastern nations. This would effectively set off a nuclear arms buying spree in the Middle East as nations came to feel threatened by the possession of nuclear bombs by their neighbors.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 July 22 10:22 AM US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control|