In recent weeks, the political party of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been considering acquiring a missile defense system that would have the capability to strike inside other countries, like North Korea and China.
Saturday marked the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, and the conditions of that surrender make the issue of Japan acquiring such missiles a sensitive one. After its defeat in World War II, Japan renounced the right to wage war, and the constitution put in place by US occupying forces in 1947 only allows Japan to take military action in self-defense.
Japanese officials argue that the ability to strike missile systems inside North Korea and China is necessary for self-defense. A proposal on the matter drafted by Abe’s party laid out the country’s concerns. “Our country needs to consider ways to strengthen deterrence, including having the capability to halt ballistic missile attacks within the territory of our adversaries,” the proposal said.
Since the end of World War II, the US has maintained a heavy military presence in Japan, with around 55,000 troops stationed in the country today. Some analysts say the Trump administration’s desire for allies to spend more on their militaries and share the cost of defense is driving Japan to consider acquiring such capabilities. But besides a troop reduction in Germany, and threats of troop cuts in South Korea, Trump’s rhetoric has not amounted to much.
North Korea’s missile capabilities and the increasing tensions between the US and China in the region are also driving Japan’s desire for new weapons. Japan recently participated in Naval exercises with the US and Australia in the Philippine Sea.