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What Russia thinks of Japan’s right to collective self-defense
What Russia thinks of Japan’s right to collective self-defense
Japan recently reinterpreted its constitution, effectively giving the country the green light to use its military in a broader range of scenarios. What are the consequences of this controversial move for Japan, Russia and East Asia?
Russia expects Japan to exercise restraint in military matters,
said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich
on July 7, noting that «we do not want to reach hasty
conclusions regarding the Japanese government’s declaration on the
right to collective
The resolution aims to alter the interpretation of Article 9
of the Japanese constitution concerning the right to collective
The change in the interpretation of the constitution generated
a mixed response, both at home and abroad, which calls for
a balanced assessment of the move and its implications for East Asia
and Russia. The decision was taken on the 60th anniversary
Prior to this decision, the Japanese government was guided by the
interpretation of the Constitution adopted in 1970,
in accordance with which Japan had a right
Besides changing the interpretation of the constitution, Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe proposed to amend the legislation expanding the use
One of Prime Minister Abe’s central ideas in amending the constitution is to make Japan a «normal country» with an independent military capacity that would reinforce its ability to act as a global power and regional leader.
How and when might Japan use its
During a press conference on the resolution, Abe noted that the government’s decision does not presuppose a fundamental change in the security policy pursued by Japan for the past 70 years, but rather represents a minor adjustment triggered by the significant changes seen recently in international and regional security.
Such changes, first and foremost, bear relation to two factors perceived as security threats to the country: the development of North Korea’s missile and nuclear program, and China’s increasing military capability and assertiveness, particularly in challenging Japan’s sovereignty over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.
It is the Chinese factor that is crucial, since China’s increased activity in the waters around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and China’s announcement of Air Defense Identification Zone in the area are seen by Japan as major security challenges. In such circumstances there is an urgent need for a more efficient cooperation with Japan’s key ally — the U.S. — as well as other regional partners, including among others Australia, Vietnam and the Philippines, with the latter two involved in territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.
The Japanese Cabinet’s decision allowing to exercise the right
(1) there is a clear existential threat to Japan and if people’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness could be fundamentally overturned;
(2) there is no other way repelling an attack and protecting Japan and its citizens;
(3) the use of force is kept to the minimum required level.
For example, after the adoption of the relevant legislation, Japan can
Pros and cons of Japan’s right
Critics stress that Cabinet’s decision, following the adoption
of the relevant laws in the Japanese Diet, will allow the deployment
At the same time, collective
Most important, Cabinet’s decision assumes the right to exercise
However, the decision on the extent to which a situation
poses a threat to Japan’s national security — and therefore
requires the use of
Moreover, given the strengthening of the
Furthermore, October 2013 saw the announcement of a revision
of the Guidelines for Defense Cooperation between Japan and the U.S.
by the end of 2014. It is no surprise that
Cabinet’s move was fully backed by Washington.
Abe’s Cabinet seeks to position Japan as a peaceful country, which policy should, in accordance with the new strategy of proactive contribution to peace, adopted in December 2013, increase its contribution to maintaining peace in both regional and international dimensions. At the same time, the quintessence of Abe’s new political course lies in the transformation of Japan into a «normal country» and the increase in domestic military potential, in part through higher defense spending.
A different picture emerges from the reaction of countries in the region that suffered Japanese aggression during World War II. The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately criticized the Japanese government’s new foreign policy, since it poses, in their eyes, a threat to the whole of Asia. In a statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei urged Japan not to violate China’s sovereignty and to follow a path of peaceful development.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at events marking the 77th anniversary of the outbreak of war with Japan, made a series of pointed statements about respect for history, and condemned those who «ignore inconvenient historical facts», a clear reference to the rhetoric issuing forth from Japan’s present cabinet and Prime Minister Abe himself.
South Korea expressed its concern over Japan’s resolution, stating that
«any issues that affect the security of the Korean peninsula and national
benefit in regard to Japan’s practice of right
ASEAN countries, particularly those involved in territorial disputes with China, namely Vietnam and the Philippines, seemed to embrace the changes with no expression of public criticism whatsoever along with Taiwan, while another Japan’s ally, Australia, backed the move.
Japan has one of the most modern and
What’s of outmost importance, Japan, along with the U.S., supports
the status quo in East Asia. Japan’s right to collective
However, the fears of Japan’s neighbors could mean that, instead of having the desired deterrent effect, the changes may actually aggravate the security dilemma and increase the likelihood of a regional political or military confrontation that draws in Japan. At the same time, the need to find an adequate and frictionless response to the challenge of China’s rise significantly determines Japan’s ability to act as a regional leader.
Russia’s response to Japan’s plans
For Russia, which needs regional stability to implement its development
projects in Siberia and the Far East, these considerations are
of particular importance. Above all, the Kremlin’s greatest concern
Japan’s active integration into
Cooperation with China, Japan, both Koreas, and the ASEAN countries, particularly Vietnam, is becoming increasingly important in the context of Russia’s Asian pivot. In particular, relations between Russia and Japan have great potential for development, especially economically and in the energy sector.
At the end of the day, successful regional development —
in which Japan is committed to playing a leading
role — is critical to maintaining stability and security
in East Asia. In this regard, Russia has consistently advocated the
creation of a new security architecture in the
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