Country Reports

As opponents of “collective defense” at home and abroad warned that Japan would start on the same path that led it to war in the twentieth century, Kitaoka Shinichi gave a strong rebuttal in Yomiuri shimbun on September 22, noting differences in the postwar era and insisting that Japan is a peace state (heiwa kokka) now subjected to threats. He contrasted today’s Japan with China on five dimensions. First, while in the earlier era countries saw geographical expansion as a source of security and prosperity, including access to resources, in our era of the free market system Japan does not think this way, but China in its intense quest to acquire resources around the globe and expansive actions on the seas to guarantee security is demonstrating a different outlook on national prestige. Second, previously Japan considered its rivals weak, but today Japan does not entertain such thoughts about China, whereas China has confidence that in East Asia it has military superiority. Third, whereas in the 1930s Japan could view international society as imposing few sanctions, now it finds protection from it, but China knows that with its veto in the Security Council it does not face much pressure and with its economic clout it can silence many countries; so it ignores international law. Fourth, political control over the military was weak in prewar Japan, and it now is far-reaching; however, the impression is spreading that it is growing weaker in China. Finally, Japan lacked freedom of speech, but with controls on speech gone today it is hard to proceed on the path to war, in contrast to today’s China, where criticism of the government is quite difficult. The above factors indicate that although there is no need to be concerned about Japan, a more effective defense may help versus China, as observers scrutinize it on these five dimensions.

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