Future Relations between the United States and Japan: Article 9 and the Remilitarization of Japan

By Gibbs, D. Bradley | Houston Journal of International Law, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview
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Future Relations between the United States and Japan: Article 9 and the Remilitarization of Japan


Gibbs, D. Bradley, Houston Journal of International Law


  I. INTRODUCTION

 II. BACKGROUND: HOW AND WHY THE "NEW"
     CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN WAS ADOPTED
     A. An Overview
     B. The Adoption Process

III. THE REINTERPRETATION OF ARTICLE 9 AND THE
     REMILITARIZATION OF JAPAN

 IV. BOTH SIDES OF THE ARGUMENT FOR REMILITARIZATION
     A. Arguments in Favor of Remilitarization
     B. Arguments Opposing Remilitarization

  V. THE FUTURE OF ARTICLE 9
     A. Debate and the Possibility of Constitutional
        Amendment
     B. A Historic Shift in Politics: The Future of Article 9
        Under the Democratic Party of Japan

 VI. U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS: NOW AND IN THE FUTURE

VII. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

In response to the recent threats emanating from China and North Korea, as well as the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the United States is urging Japan to rebuild its long-dismantled military forces. (1) In 2009, following a historic political shift within Japan's government, the controversial topic of amending Article 9 of Japan's Constitution emerged once again. (2)

The irony of U.S. support of Japanese "remilitarization" is that the United States designed and wrote the framework for Japan's post-WWII pacifist Constitution (sometimes called the "Peace Constitution"), which expressly prohibited Japan from ever again maintaining an offensive military. (3) Since WWII however, the United States has dramatically changed its stance on the Japanese military because of Japan's economic strength and the strong U.S.--Japan bonds that have developed. (4) The ideological shift toward remilitarization has been met with mixed opinions both in Japan and abroad. (5)

This comment will examine Article 9's history, the possibility of amendment under the Democratic Party of Japan, changing interpretations of Japan's constitutional potential for war, both sides of the remilitarization debate, and the implications on U.S.--Japan military and economic relations, both now and in the future.

I propose that Article 9 be amended and remilitarization allowed in Japan. Japan is well aware of its aggressive military history, and although the Japanese people tend to support Japan's post-WWII pacifist stance, (6) the time has come for Japan to take greater responsibility for its own defense. The United States has not formally "occupied" Japan for quite some time, but it continues to bolster Japan's military resources by providing potential offensive capabilities should the need arise. (7) I further propose that remilitarization has already become a reality and that legal and political semantics are distracting attention from this truth.

I will also examine the question of whether it is politically and economically feasible for the United States to continue to provide the level of military support it has been providing since WWII. In my opinion, the answer to this question is a resounding no, and a limited allowance for Japanese military buildup is the only realistic option at this point.

II. BACKGROUND: HOW AND WHY THE "NEW" CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN WAS ADOPTED

A. An Overview

Japan's Peace Constitution came into effect on May 3, 1947 and is uniquely pacifist in nature. (8) Article 9 renounces war, but has been interpreted to allow Japan Jieitai ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which translates to "Self-Defense Forces" (SDF), a broad designation that includes the Air SDF, Maritime SDF, and Ground SDF. (9) The Peace Constitution is also sometimes referred to as the "MacArthur Constitution," because it was heavily influenced by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. (10) After U.S. occupation of Japan began, MacArthur was instrumental to the architecture of Article 9, which was designed to ensure that Japan would never go to war again: Japan was to remain disarmed, and Japan's postwar military policies were to be subject to strict U.N. oversight. (11)

Japan's new Constitution reflected significant changes in the views of the post-WWII international community, and was revolutionary at its inception.

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