China card in Japan’s strive for remilitarization

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) is greeted by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh after placing a wreath for the victims and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings near the finish line in Boston, Massachusetts April 27, 2015 (Reuters / Brian Snyder)
Tokyo is using China “increasing its hegemonic motivation” as an excuse because the US will only accept Japan’s remilitarization if they think it can be used to contain China, Dr. Tim Beal, Asia specialist, researcher and author, told RT.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting the US to show the close ties between Washington and Tokyo, and discussions on Japan's military ambitions. Boosting Tokyo's military role is the biggest change in Japanese security policy in decades. It comes as there is growing tension over territorial disputes with Beijing in the East and South China Seas.

RT:Japan seems to indicate that it wants more of a global security presence. Do you think we will see Mr. Abe do away with the pacifist parts of the Japanese constitution, especially at a sensitive time, when the world is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two?

Dr. Tim Beal: Good question, it is a sensitive time. And in that case I suppose we might see him pedaling back a little bit. But basically he is going to push forward because remilitarization is the capstone of the Abe administration and that’s what it is all about. That’s the center point of his political program. He wants to make Japan a normal country with the right of belligerency, legal armed forces and etc. He is a canny politician so he might be a bit cautious at this time, but he is going to press forward with remilitarization. What’s also interesting: is he going to change the Constitution? What they have come up with recently, last year or so, that it’s not really necessary to change the Constitution, “we just have to reinterpret it.” So the Constitution says you shouldn’t have armed forces, have the right of belligerency and etc., we re-interpret it to mean that you can have armed forces and that you can have a military presence abroad. So you come up with these interesting phrases like when the idea of sending Japanese troops abroad becomes “proactive pacifism.” So once you start reinterpreting then in essence you don’t have to change the Constitution, you are still getting this remilitarization. So that’s going to be an on-going thrust from the Shinzo Abe administration.

READ MORE: US & Japan to unveil new defense policy amid China tensions

RT:Japan says that China is "increasing its hegemonic motivation,” and wants the US to come to the rescue. Are Tokyo’s worries justified?

TB: Again it’s been an on-going competition for 150 years. I don’t think there is any particular thrust from China against Japan. I think Japan is basically using China as an excuse, and it’s using it because the only way Americans will accept Japanese remilitarization is if they think that Japan can be used against China. One of the main points of American foreign policy is the containment of China. So Japan is very important part of that. They have been pressing for Japanese remilitarization and remilitarization needs its excuses and they’ve used North Korea and they will use China. That doesn’t necessarily mean that any of these excuses are really valid, they are there to give a reason for remilitarization and in this both Japan and the US have a common interest.

RT:Do you think the United States will help Japan by exerting more pressure on China, in terms of issues like the East China Sea dispute?

TB: Yes, because it’s again the Americans want to contain China and they are using Japan to do that just as Japan is using the US in a certain way. So yes, I think that will continue. So again we are going to see a sort of a joint effort between Japan and the US on this East China Sea dispute and on other places as well.

READ MORE: Enough with WWII apologies: Japan PM sees no need to reinforce remorse

RT:How much do you think the US military industrial complex will benefit, if Japan starts to increase its security and military prowess?

TB: That’s a very fascinating question. The military industrial complex, of course, to some extent will benefit from Japanese remilitarization because it can sell arms to Japan. On the other hand the Japanese are very good at producing their own civil and military equipment. So they are going to be grave competitors. For instance, we have seen the Japanese selling submarines to Australia. So I think whilst the military industrial complex has been happy to promote Japanese remilitarization they may be less than happy at the consequences. The Japanese are going to be…very tough competitors. So I think there might be some regrets in the future on that one.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.