Arming Japan: in Tokyo no longer rely on the United States

© AP Photo / Shizuo KambayashiЗенитно-missile system Patriot PAC-3 near the defence Ministry in Tokyo. 16 April 2017Arming Japan: in Tokyo no longer rely on the United States© AP Photo / Shizuo KambayashiИлья Plekhanov, for RIA Novosti

Relations between the US and North Korea make everyone in the region nervous. Rumors of a possible war is constantly heated by the missile launches by the DPRK maneuvers of the U.S. carriers and the rhetoric of politicians on both sides.

If the US goes to a military confrontation with North Korea or China, then Japan will have to participate, considering how many bases and the US military within its territory. On the other hand, there’s former confidence that the US will provide full assistance if in Japan there a conflict with China or North Korea.

In Japan often think that it is necessary to rely on its Armed forces, which in this case should be strengthened.

Political talks

Last week, former defense Minister of Japan, member of the ruling liberal democratic party and a likely candidate for the post of Prime Minister Shigeru Ishiba stated that in the discussions about changing the Constitution it’s time to discuss the name of self-defense Forces and, perhaps, to officially recognize their finally full-fledged Armed forces.

This statement is made in light of the may appeal of the current Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe to 2020, in the Constitution of the state the legal status of the Japan self-defense Forces. Until now, their legal status is in limbo, and the existence, in fact, the Armed forces of Japan was just recognized as a fact by default and with the consent of the United States. Determining the status of the self-defense Forces will not change anything in the spirit of the ninth article of the Japanese Constitution and will not give the offensive properties of Japanese troops, but can become a symbolic step for the movement of Japan to a military self-sufficiency.

However, in 2015, Abe was able to introduce the concept of collective self-defense, which gives the right to help allies outside the country if a threat to the allies is a threat to Japan. This, of course, about North Korea. In may of this year, the ship of the Japanese Navy first used this right and was accompanied by the transport ship of the U.S. Navy in the sea of Japan.

While politicians talk about legal and symbolic aspects, Japan has taken real steps to strengthen military power.

More missiles, submarines and drones

Back in may, the Japanese media reported that Japan is considering the purchase of ground-based missile defense system Aegis Ashore in the United States. This, in theory, should increase the chances of intercepting missiles from North Korea and reduce the burden on the six destroyers of the Japanese Navy, the ship is equipped with Aegis system. Japan needs three Aegis Ashore batteries to cover the country. The cost of each battery without missiles is about $ 700 million. The system should start operating in 2023.

The news sparked condemnation both in China and in Russia. Japan’s neighbors have questioned the purely defensive nature of the acquisition of this system, implying that these complexes can run and strike cruise missiles and, although the complexes will be part of the Japan self-defense Forces, they can use the Americans in their order in case of aggravation of the situation in the region, including in the event of a conflict with China or Russia.By 2020, when Japan will host the Olympics, it is planned to increase twice the range and increase the accuracy of ground-based missile complexes Patriot PAC-3. By this time Japan plans to modernize 28 of complexes, starting with those that cover Tokyo.

In may, there was talk that Japan is considering the acquisition of cruise missiles «Tomahawk». Most likely, if a deal ever take place, they will be placed on the Japanese destroyers with the Aegis system. It is, in fact, the first offensive weapon of Japan that she will be able to hit targets in North Korea.

In Japan also plans to increase its submarine fleet from 18 to 22 units, it should be noted that Japan is building high quality boats, not buys from other countries, and tries, though unsuccessfully, to establish their exports (e.g. India and Australia). The submarines are armed with, in addition to torpedoes, anti-ship missiles and work in close conjunction with the US Navy, carrying out, strictly speaking, the main work on the tracking ships and boats of the Chinese fleet.

The first year is discussed and the desire of Japan to acquire U.S. three reconnaissance UAV RQ-4 Global Hawk. In the meantime, the US bases in Japan based American RQ-4, and, most likely, the Japanese are trained in their use. Japan was also unhappy that the Americans are not willing to match Japanese cars all modern systems, so in parallel, the Japanese were negotiating with Israel to purchase drones. © AP Photo / GLOBE NEWSWIREБеспилотник RQ-4 Global HawkArming Japan: in Tokyo no longer rely on the United States© AP Photo / GLOBE NEWSWIREБеспилотник RQ-4 Global Hawk

Nuclear weapons

But most of all concerned about occasional informal conversations about what Japan should acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Japan is not convinced that the US will support her 100% in the case of a large-scale conflict with its neighbors with nuclear weapons (North Korea, China, Russia). Arming Japan: in Tokyo no longer rely on the United States© REUTERS / Lucy NicholsonКНДР called testing USA to intercept ballistic missiles «bluff»

In the foreign media with the election of the President of the United States Donald trump exaggerated article which States that now is the best time for Japan to become a nuclear power, that trump is not against, but States in General are losing their grip in the region, besides their whipping carriers and the statements about the containment of the DPRK — empty words. Statements by Japanese politicians about any methods for the protection of the country, including nuclear strikes, to appear in 2002, after the DPRK announced its nuclear program.

American politics, scaring China, also periodically add fuel to the fire, claiming that «Japan could become a nuclear power overnight».

Arming Japan: in Tokyo no longer rely on the United States© RIA Novosti / Ilya Petliurite in fotomancer North Korea has said it wants to send US «gifts»it is believed that Japan has the capability to build a nuclear warhead in six to twelve months. Already mentioned are the former Minister of defense of Japan and a potential candidate to be the next Prime Minister of Japan in 2011, said: «I don’t think Japan needs to possess nuclear weapons, but it is important that we support the work of their commercial reactors because they allow us to create a nuclear warhead in the shortest possible time. This tool is the so-called nuclear deterrence.»

For this reason, Japan has opposed the holding of this year meeting in the UN about a possible Treaty to ban nuclear weapons and all nuclear powers.