Japan Must Decide to Amend the Constitution to Gain a National Defense Army

Seiji Fuji

The Hong Kong pro-democracy protests number one million people

 The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong show no sign of stopping. The history behind these demonstrations stretches back to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed on December 19, 1984. It states that no socialist policies will be implemented in Hong Kong for 50 years after the handover in 1997 (in other words, until 2047) based on the “one country, two systems” principle proposed by Deng Xiaoping. Universal suffrage was supposed to be implemented in the 2017 election to choose the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, yet the Chinese leaders introduced a system in 2014 that effectively excludes pro-democracy candidates. In response, pro-democracy student groups launched the “Umbrella Revolution” protests against the Hong Kong government in 2014. Their longstanding occupation of the financial district provoked antipathy from citizens, and the protests ended unsuccessfully when they were broken up by the police, with no concrete results.
 The current protests were set off by a proposed amendment to the extradition bill. Unlike the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, these leaderless protests started in March 2019 are of a new style in which participants gather all at once at locations and times posted on social media.
 Organizers said the demonstration on June 9 was attended by 1.03 million people. Because Hong Kong’s population numbers about 7.4 million, this means that 14% of its citizens took part. The people of Hong Kong clearly have great interest in these issues that will determine their future way of living.
 However, China is stationing tens of thousands of armed policemen near the border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong and conducting drills to practice subjugating the protestors. I imagine the Chinese government would be strongly criticized across the world if it used these armed police and the People’s Liberation Army to get the situation under control by killing 10,000 citizens and students, like when it intervened at Tiananmen Square in 1989. It also fears this would set off similar protests across China resembling the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement (also called the “Jasmine Revolution”) that began in Tunisia in 2010. Right now, China is trying its best to handle the protests solely through the Hong Kong police.
 I think the Chinese government will work to crush democracy by causing disturbances in Taiwan next, then moving to Okinawa and then Japan. Japanese citizens must not be indifferent to what is happening in Hong Kong.

Taiwan is developing ballistic missiles to guard against China

 On November 7, the front page of the Sankei Shimbun newspaper ran an article entitled, “Taiwan’s Ballistic Missile Development.” It read:

The first presidential election in Taiwan took place in March 1996. Right before that in the summer of 1995, China started large-scale military exercises and ballistic missile tests, which increased tensions. It continued these exercises until directly before the election. Chinese Dong-Feng 15 short-range ballistic missiles struck the waters off Keelung (in northern Taiwan) and Kaohsiung (southern Taiwan) in March 1996. The United States sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to Taiwan’s coastal waters to restrain China’s actions.
On November 6, the Sankei Shimbun obtained secret documents from that time revealing that [the Taiwanese Lee Teng-hui administration] was developing medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) for deterrence against China [during this Third Taiwan Strait Crisis].
Previous news reports said Taiwan was developing intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) based on statements from involved persons, but this is the first clear reference in an official document to key government figures taking part in missile development.

 China is executing its “Hundred-Year Marathon” strategy to become a superpower that surpasses the U.S. by 2049, the country’s 100th anniversary. Timothy J. Keating gave testimony that top Chinese navy officials suggested dividing up the Pacific Ocean between the U.S. and China when he visited China in 2007, when Keating was admiral of the U.S. Pacific Command. During a joint press conference with American President Donald Trump in 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the Pacific Ocean has plenty of space for China and the U.S. This clearly indicated that China is striving to obtain the western half of the Pacific Ocean in its bid to become a superpower. The Taiwanese Lee administration developed ballistic missiles to stand against these Chinese ambitions.
 The Sankei Shimbun article continues:

A Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense official stated that the engine technologies used to develop ballistic missiles under Lee are partially applied to the Hsiung Feng IIE missile, generally regarded as a cruise missile, and deployed for combat. The official revealed these missiles can even reach north of Shanghai on the Chinese mainland.

 Taiwan’s efforts to enhance its military power and withstand the Chinese threat are achieving deterrence via its current cruise missile system. I believe Lee chose a correct way of handling the situation.

Our only chance for constitutional revision is during the next five years when the current Japanese and American leaders are in power

 In contrast, let us look at the circumstances in Japan. Today many people believe the U.S. will protect us according to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and that Article 9 of the constitution prevents war. This is untrue; a balance of power is what determines whether war breaks out, and possessing means for military counterattacks helps maintain peace. Japan must have military strength for independent self-defense to ensure peace in East Asia. To achieve this, we should amend the constitution by removing the second paragraph of Article 9 to make the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) into a full-fledged national army. However, there are high barriers to constitutional change in Japan, and I doubt the U.S. will permit this unless Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are both in office. America’s presidents can serve up to two terms, totaling eight years. Trump will be in power until 2024 if he wins re-election. Abe’s term of office ends in 2021, but this could be extended until 2024 if the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) regulations are changed to allow a fourth presidential term. This would leave five years for the current Japanese and American leaders to govern, a time period in which we must revise the constitution and become a decent country that can protect itself.
 The LDP’s current constitutional revision proposal merely adds a clear statement about the JSDF, preserving it as an organization that only has police powers rather than an armed force. That is why we must amend the constitution in two stages to remove the second paragraph of Article 9. In phase one, we should clearly specify the role of the JSDF and show citizens that change is possible. The revision momentum should be increased and a national movement implemented to gain support from a majority of citizens in the national referendum to follow. In this way, citizens must decide to effect constitutional change so Japan can have a defense army and become a normal, independent nation.

The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty should be a bilateral agreement like the Anglo-Japanese Alliance

 Still, there is not much time left, and the first phase of amendments must be completed as soon as possible. After this year’s House of Councillors election, powers in favor of constitutional reform no longer hold two thirds of the seats in that house. A motion can only be submitted with approval from two thirds of the members, meaning support will be required from independents and other political parties in addition to the parties advocating for reform (LDP, Komeito, and Japan Innovation Party). The Komeito wants to add to the constitution, but now it is saying that constitutional change is premature and should be put off. China is only growing larger during this time and is stepping up its provocation, including building military bases on reclaimed reefs in the South China Sea to establish marine hegemony. Moreover, police vessels are being commanded by the Chinese army to frequently violate Japanese territory. Japan must obtain the necessary military force to establish a balance of power that can withstand this.
 Only 30 years remain until 2049, the year in which China is aiming to gain control of the world. Japan certainly cannot feel peace of mind as all of its other neighbors are becoming nuclear states, including Russia and North Korea. We should take measures to enhance our military power and deter war. Like Taiwan, we should develop and deploy ballistic and cruise missiles as offensive weapons. I also think Japan should consider bringing in nuclear weapons. If nothing else, we should remove the prohibition on introducing nuclear weapons from the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and conclude a nuclear sharing agreement with the U.S. to gain the same level of deterrence as a nuclear weapons state without possessing our own nuclear weapons. The U.S. already has a similar arrangement with the four North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries of Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In times of peace, the weapons are jointly managed within the countries that lack their own nuclear weapons, which can take the initiative to use them in emergencies. These four NATO member states originally entered into this agreement to guard against the Soviet Union, and of course in Japan’s case it would serve to maintain a nuclear balance against China and North Korea. The past Cold War was between the U.S. and Soviet Union, but this has shifted to a Sino-American cold war in which the U.S. sees Japan as its top front-line base against China.
 Under the current constitution and Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, if Japan were attacked by another country, the U.S. has to protect Japan even at the risk of starting World War III. However, Japan has no obligation to defend the U.S. if it were attacked. There is a basis for Trump’s comment that it is unfair for Japanese people to merely watch America being attacked on their Sony TVs. The existing Japan-U.S. Security treaty is a one-sided agreement in which Japan simply provides military bases to the U.S. It should be made into a bilateral agreement like the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of the past. I visited a Commonwealth army cemetery on Malta, an island in the Mediterranean, that has a monument honoring 71 Japanese soldiers. During World War I, Britain asked Japan to help protect its convoys according to their alliance. The Japanese navy dispatched a fleet to the Mediterranean in February 1917, and it was called the “Guardian of the Mediterranean” for the great things it did there. However, the Sakaki destroyer was hit by a submarine during convoy operations in June 1917, and 59 soldiers including the captain died in battle. The memorial is for these soldiers and 12 others who died from diseases during the war. This demonstrates that alliances require countries to shed blood to protect each other. It seems naïve to think that another country will protect us based on a one-sided agreement.

Japan is the only country that can stand in the way of China’s ambitions

 Moreover, would the U.S. immediately come to Japan’s aid if Japan were attacked? The U.S. does not fight wars that are against its interests and places great importance on democracy, so I wonder what would happen if the American people were against safeguarding Japan. Citizen support is essential when American soldiers fight. I do not think even Trump could carry out military actions without public support. To get the American public on our side, I feel Japan must clearly state its will to protect itself with the U.S. Armed Forces supplementing our strength. Many Japanese people must understand that the U.S. would likely not fight unless Japan does so as well.
 China, which is augmenting its military strength each year, has no scruples as it shows off its overwhelming military power. It is likely that Japan can only stand against China through its control of the seas, maintained because the Marine Self-Defense Force (MSDF) has submarines and torpedoes that can be utilized at the greatest depths in the world. Regular submarines can only submerge to depths of 200 to 300 meters at most, and nuclear submarines to 500 to 600 meters. However, MSDF submarines can travel to depths of 900 meters. Only Japan can attack with torpedoes at this depth. These submarines are also very quiet and can be used for long voyages thanks to high-performance lithium batteries. I imagine other countries abandon their plans to attack Japan from the ocean if they are aware of these submarines stationed deep below the waters around Japan.
 One theory says that a MSDF submarine actually sunk a (simulated) American nuclear submarine in joint exercises with the U.S. However, technology progresses at a rapid pace. Only Japan has these technologies today. If China develops even better ones, it is fully possible that Japan will lose the defense superiority conferred by its position as an island nation.
 China has fought with all of its land neighbors based on its doctrine of hegemonism. It annexed Inner Mongolia and invaded Tibet. China has also fought with South Korea in the Korean War, India in border disputes, the Soviet Union over Damansky Island, and Vietnam in the Sino-Vietnamese War. China has begun building military bases in the South China Sea and is taking logical steps to acquire land and marine hegemony to achieve its Hundred-Year Marathon plan. Naturally, China will strive to achieve its interests in the area from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Okinawa, and Japan. Japan is the only country that can stand in the way of China’s ambitions in the military realm. For that reason, we must abolish the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and amend the constitution. Now is the best chance to accomplish this. I hope Abe will make dedicated efforts to realize his original goal of constitutional revision – for the future of the world as well as Japan – and I will do everything I can to support him.

September 19 (Thursday), 2019, 6:00 p.m.