Would Japan Go to War?

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The news today that Japan is “considering whether a pre-emptive strike on North Korea would violate its constitution” strikes me as significant. In half-century since World War II ended, Japan’s pacifist constitution has forbidden the country from having an offensive military; only a defensive force is allowed. Under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Tokyo has been pushing against that limit for quite some time; not least in the unpopular decision to send troops to Iraq—to provide, in Koizumi’s words “humanitarian assistance.” So now the question is whether “pre-emptive strikes” fall in that gray area.

On the other hand, it sure seems like Japan’s only talking about launching a pre-emptive strike on North Korea not because it would be a good idea—it wouldn’t be—but because it just wants to scare China into handling North Korea. China presumably doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on a costly arms race with Japan, and would rather calm down Kim Jong-Il than see Japan freak out and start gearing up for a pre-emptive strike. That’s my guess, anyway. All a political gambit.

But then, who knows? Chalmers Johnson wrote a good article a while back about Japan’s struggle with rearmament, and noted that a number of U.S. government types have been pushing Japan to revise article nine of the constitution and become a significant military force in the Far East, all in order to “counterbalance” China—proving once again that the so-called “China hawks” are probably a greater threat to world peace than most of the tinpot dictators we seem to spend so much time obsessing over.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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