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Should Japan be allowed a normal military?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/18/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,971 times Debate No: 35752
Debate Rounds (3)
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Just a short discussion on whether Japan should be allowed to remobilize its military, and whether or not it should amend its constitution to allow war.

Two rounds, one for talking points and one for counter arguements. First round is for acceptance.


I accept your challenge. I'm new to DDO I'm looking for an interesting debate. Although I can't say that this is an issue about which I'm passionate, I can think of a few plausible arguments we might kick around. What's your line of thinking?
Debate Round No. 1


In very recent news, Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe has recently pledged to increase military spending in light of growing security concerns in the pacific and east Asia. This will be the first significant defense increase for Japan in over 11 years, where the expected defense build up will include a new focus on aerial denial, anti-submarine warfare, missile defense, and the ability to conduct preemptive strikes. But as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) begins to campaign for a more robust Japanese army, the question that needs to be asked is should Japan also amend Article IX of its constitution to now permit war, and is a full fledged Japanese military a good idea?

We can say yes for a few reasons.

1. Article IX is outdated and World War II is over.

Article IX of the Japanese constitution states that, "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

Yet we can recognize this amendment as outdated because World War II has long been over, and Japan's prewar warrior culture that made this clause necessary is long gone. Japan is no longer an imperialist country, has learned its lesson the hard way (through occupation and atomic bombings) and has had its government effectively transformed from a military junta to a healthy and functioning democracy. But just like every sovereign nation that isn't a rouge state, Japan has a right to self-defense and also has the right to amend its constitution if the people feel its necessary. The Japanese government should not have to seek a permission slip or approval from the international community to protect itself.

2. New security threats from North Korea and China requires a stronger Japanese military.

The Chinese military build up is one of the fastest and most extensive in world history, even faster than the one conducted by Hitler in Nazi Germany. And as America continues to shrink its share of security responsibilities to Japan and the Pacific region in light of tight public finances, it will be up to Japan to pick up the slack for its defense against the Chinese threat, whose aggressive territorial grabs in the pacific and the Senkaku islands (claimed by Japan) make their unfriendly intentions pretty clear. Obviously, to have any hope of countering the largest military power in the world is going to require amending Article 9, which puts severe restraints on the kind of land, air, and naval forces that Japan can have but are necessary to counter China. Such as aircraft-carriers, drones, submarines, and new generation fighter jets.

The threat of North Korea nukes is also a huge security concern for Japan. Because of the narrow geography and urban density of its population, it is unlikely that Japan could absorb even a single WMD attack and survive. Having US troops stationed in Japan might seem as a deterrent against this, but really if Japan were attacked even once, it would be effectively destroyed and the purpose of American retaliation might be too late. Allowing Japan to effectively provide for its own defense would give it the defense capabilities it needs to launch preemptive strikes and provide for its own means of deterrent, which will respond better and faster if it is not at the whims of US policy makers. A good example of this would be the US's failure to protect the Sea of Japan from over a decade of North Korean missile tests, having the Japanese provide its own security would put greater priority and emphasis into preventing this.

3. Japan will be a great ally for the US and maintaining world peace.

Were Japan to effectively mobilize, it is very plausible that they would become the #2 military power overnight. This is made possible by the superior competitiveness and technical expertise of the japanese people and is something American policy makers desperately need to consider with the rise of China, dangerous Sino-Russian military cooperation, and the continuing decline of Europe and NATO as military powers. Having Japan mobilize might even allow US forces to pull out of the pacific all together, allowing the US to once again focus on getting its economy back together and securing its own borders. This is a great win-win opportunity for the United States, and just what the west needs to fill security gaps left open by impeding US withdraws in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

That's going to do it for now, and I look forward to my opponents reply.


Thanks, Jingle_Bombs for your thoughtful arguments.


Let's begin by acknowledging that the Japanese people maintain the exclusive right and capacity to amend the Japanese constitution. Article IX is still around because it reflects the popular will of the Japanese people. Although popular support has eroded somewhat over the past decade, a strong majority continue to endorse the clause as a reflection of Japanese will and embrace its spirit as a reflection of post-war pacifist culture in Japan.

This is not to say democratic support is rooted in mere idealism. Rather, support reflects a sober assessment of the current military threat and the sufficiency of Japanese armament to respond within the constraints of Article IX. Consider the following:

a) Although the ground forces maintained by the Japanese Self Defense Force are small, Japan maintains the 4th largest navy and the 10th largest air force in the world. Japan's military budget is the fifth largest. These provisions seem rational and proportional to the immediate security requirements of Japan. That is, they lack any occupying force, but maintain armaments consistent with defending Japanese interests in the Western Pacific.

b) Potential military threats against Japan, while real, remain unlikely in the current state of global affairs.

i) Russia- Japanese-Russian relations are relatively good at present, as good as they've ever been. The primary bone of contention is over the Kuril Islands which Russia now occupies. Absent a Japanese invasion(unthinkable under the umbrella of Article IX), this dispute is not likely to become a flash point.

ii) China- In spite of recent saber rattling, China is highly unlikely to seek war in the near term. In a limited Naval engagement, the JDSF's smaller, but elite and experienced Navy is at least a match for China's larger, but inactive and inexperienced navy. Until the quality of China's navy improves, the risk of a loss is far more consequential to Beijing then to Tokyo. Larger engagements, including missile attacks against Japanese ports or cities would be an instant disaster for the Chinese economy, losing six of its seven largest trading partners and somewhere near 40% of its economy in a single stroke. Unlike its enemies, China has no venue for regime change except revolution. The likelihood of civil war emerging during any larger conflict must weigh heavily on Beijing. At present, any nuclear exchange would invoke an American response. While the survival rates for nuclear war range from apocalyptic horror to human extermination, none in Beijing may reasonably hope to survive such a conflict. Therefore, Chinese self-interest precludes the likelihood of war.

iii) North Korea- As the most dysfunctional nation on Earth, North Korea presents the least predictable and therefore the likeliest threat to Japan. In spite of the constraints of Article IX, Japan has built an effective
capacity for North Korean missile interception. Still, North Korea is at an appalling disadvantage in any conflict against its neighbors and China seems increasingly less interested in intervention on Pyongyang's behalf. Whatever the results of a North Korean attack on Japan, the most predictable outcome would be the end of the Kim dynasty. Again, North Korean self-interest is Japan's best defense.

This is not to suggest that vigilance against these threats is unnecessary. in the next half-century, robotization and the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels are going to introduce radical variables into every balance of power. The current political system of North Korea (and probably China) is unsustainable. Japan's modern interpretation of Article IX reflects a rational, measured response to the current scenario. If an emergency arises, I expect the same rational electorate will modify or remove the article to meet the threat. At present, Article IX helps to defuse tension.


There is little doubt that the United States Govt. generally supports a weaker or abolished Article IX. By any measure, the U.S. stands to benefit in the short term from a more assertive Japanese posture. Obviously, the U.S. would like its ally to share in the risk and cost of American adventures overseas. America would have preferred to see Japanese ground forces in Afghanistan, or Japanese jets in the Persian Gulf. These are costly, deadly enterprises and there's no reason for the U.S. not to wish for all the help it can get. But what's in it for Japan? U.S. land wars in Asia have gone on years longer than anticipated, at far greater cost than expected, with few advantages realized. Would a deeper commitment to America's engagements have in any way improved Japan's sluggish economy over the past decade? No. Would it have radicalized the Mercantilist and Pacifist factions in Japanese politics? Perhaps. Japanese was wise to stand at a supportive but secure distance from these conflicts.

Obviously, as the largest armaments exporters in the world, the U.S. would stand benefits by opening the Japanese arms market. As land wars in Asia wind down, building an aircraft carrier or two for Japan is just the kind of business the American defense industry is looking for. There is little doubt that the lobbyists campaigning against Article IX in Washington and Tokyo are primarily funded by the corporations with big defense contracts. But do they really have Japan's long term interests in mind?

In the long term, Article IX creates an essential dependence on the U.S. Military. The U.S. justifies its tremendous network of bases in Japan because Article IX discourages a large standing army there and to guarantee U.S. participation in any war on Japan. Without Article IX, could this interdependence be sustained? Probably not. While U.S. bases in Japan are generally popular, the large annual payout to the U.S. to maintain them is less so.
Were Japan free to rebuild a large ground force, wouldn't the cost of American troops begin to seem like an unnecessary expense? Wouldn't the strategic locations of U.S. bases seem better suited for the fortifications of Japanese forces? After a time without Article IX, the American military presence would almost certainly encounter increasing resistance and decline. With less interdependency, we could reasonably expect Japan's foreign policy to align less with that of the United States. Japan's more nationalist positions on issues like the Kuril Islands or whale hunting might erode the influence and trust between our two nations.

Keep in mind that when Prime Minister Shidehara proposed Article IX, he spoke out of a deep understanding of the Japanese character. Once Japan committed to an international presence at the beginning of the 20th century, its population obsessed on military excellence and required proof of that excellence by supporting expansion. Shidehara-san understood that after defeat, Japan would be dissatisfied with a second rate military, but could support and take pride of excellence in a force if it was devoted to a radically new mission of self-defense and pacifism.


Renouncing belligerency sets a fine example that nations like the United States might do better to support and even emulate. At the end of the day, humanity needs to adopt the successful tools of peace and adapt to a planet of international co-existence. Even wars of self-defense and those wars we call just wars are counter-productive to human sustainability. While we are not yet ready as a species to turn every sword into a ploughshare, peace must be an ideal to which every nation aspires. Consider how much healthier and happier would the United States be today if it had restricted engagements in Afghanistan or Iraq to a more narrow interpretation of self-defense? These long engagements with little sense of purpose create more enemies than friends. Bin Laden cited the American troops in Saudi Arabia as a justification for 9/11. How much better suited to compete against China would the U.S. be today if, after the Cold War, we had confined our military budget to self-defense and invested the remaining trillions into education, infrastructure, health care, space exploration and technology?

Under the auspices of Article IX, there is no doubt that Japan's democracy has control of its military. There is no separate justice for soldiers or military prisoners. Guantanamo Bays are not possible. Secret military programs are not possible. Wars fought by a few while civilians grow inattentive and forget are not possible. Perhaps, rather than pressuring Japan to renounce Article IX, the United States should give into what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" and renew its commitment to self-defense and peace.
Debate Round No. 2


Jingle_Bombs forfeited this round.


Since Pro has reneged on counterarguments, Con will keep counterarguments short.

Pro states:
" The Japanese government should not have to seek a permission slip or approval from the international community to protect itself."

As affirmed in Con's opening, Japan maintains the exclusive right and power to amend Article. Japan in no way requires approval from any external body.

Pro states:
"The Chinese military build up is one of the fastest and most extensive in world history, even faster than the one conducted by Hitler in Nazi Germany."

America's military spending is 4 times that of second ranked China, in defense of a population one-quarter China's size. If China's belligerency may be compared to Hitler's based on military buildup, then Pro must perceive America's intentions as similarly sinister, a conclusion Con denies.

Pro states:
"as America continues to shrink its share of security responsibilities to Japan and the Pacific region in light of tight public finances, it will be up to Japan to pick up the slack"

The U.S. has not decreased its overall presence in Asia since the end of the Vietnam war and in fact, the Obama Administration increased
overall military presence in the Pacific by 2500 soldiers in 2012. Obama's current "Pivot to Asia" foreign policy suggests an increase, not decrease in the Asian-Pacific sphere of influence over the next few years.

Pro states:
"[Japan will require restricted hardware] ....such as aircraft-carriers, drones, submarines, and new generation fighter jets."

Although aircraft carriers armed with jets exceed Japan's present interpretation of Article IX, the JSDF maintains 2 state-of-the-art helicopter carriers, a peerless submarine fleet, and a fleet of drones. JDSF purchased four of the latest F-35s from the U.S. in 2012 with an option to buy 38 more pending satisfaction.

Pro states:
"the US's failure to protect the Sea of Japan from over a decade of North Korean missile tests "

suggests that the U.S. tried to shoot down Korean missiles and failed. Rather, the U.S. and Japan both acknowledged the international call for restraint and simply condemned North Korea's provocation. Since a third of the tests were humiliating failures and since recent tests caused a considerable rift to develop between China and North Korea, restraint has proven to be the tactically correct response, doing Pyongyang more harm than good.

Japan's Article IX has done a fine job maintaining a balance of power in the Pacific while also maintaining Japan's commitment to peace. It should not be abolished unless the Japanese people feel that balance has been compromised. If you agree, please vote for Con.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Oromagi 4 years ago
A story from AP Mobile:
Japan's Aso refuses to resign over Nazi comment
TOKYO (AP) - Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso refused Friday to resign or apologize over remarks suggesting Japan should follow the Nazi example of how to change the country's constitution stealthily and without public debate. Following protests by neighboring countries and human rights activists, he "retracted" the comments on Thursday but refused to go further. "I have no intention to step do...
Read Full Story

Download the free AP Mobile for iPhone and iPad from the App Store today! or visit for support on Android, Blackberry, WP7 and other devices.

Sent from my iPhone
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 4 years ago
Apologies, busy work week.
Posted by aero36 4 years ago
I hate leaving comments like this, but: I wish I had the time to research this and have a debate over this topic. This would be something I would greatly enjoy seeing all of the facts about it.
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