The administration of Barack Obama, and the Government of the United States, in spite of resistance from professedly pacifistic Japan, are encouraging that Island nation, our greatest Asian ally, to a more aggressively defensive posture.
Japan is remorseful of past aggression, including the 1937 brutal assaults on China’s capital city of Nanking, considered the worst Asian atrocity of the World War ll era. During six weeks of barbarism, 300,000 Chinese were killed. In the Japanese “Rape of Nanking,” none, not even pregnant women, was spared. Media reports at the time said that bayonet practice on live prisoners and many other terrible atrocities were committed.
Japan is dedicated to peace and civility. She calls her military a “Self-Defense Force.” But pragmatic too, she cannot ignore a need to turn her defensive attention from Russia, on the north, to points south and west of Japan. China is reported to have a “growing presence” near the disputed southernmost islands, known in Japan as Senkakus, in China as Diaoyu.
The United States, with its own view of world situations, is encouraging Japan to join with the U.S. military in new and ongoing exercises, partially in response to the North Korean shelling last month of Yeonpyeong Island. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral “Mike” Mullen visited the region last week (December 8 and 9, 2010), where he met with Japan’s Minister of Defense, Toshimi Kitazawa, and voiced the opinion that the two nations should work more closely together, this to include more joint military exercises. The U.S. makes reference to provocations by North Korea, and China’s growing assertiveness in the region. Specifically, the call is for “greater integration of Japan and United States military.”
The United States’ plan calls for an increase in Japan’s submarine fleet, and the installment of new permanent military bases beyond Okinawa. Also called for are fighter jets and ground units with a capacity for quick response. There was initial resistance from Japan, particularly pertaining to the new airbase, but Japan’s new Democratic Party government is now looking more favorably at the Unites States’ plan. Washington includes in the concept stronger three-way military ties with South Korea.
In related news, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is considering sending Japanese forces to the Korean Peninsula for several reasons, one of which is to search for Japanese known to have been abducted by North Korea in the 1970’s and the 1980’s.