According to the Christian Science Monitor, there’s a debate in Japan about remilitarization:
For the first time since 1945, Japan is openly planning a beefier military. Moreover, for a staunchly pacifist nation, home to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a debate about having nuclear weapons, unthinkable a few years ago, is now thinkable…. This spring Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said it was “not necessarily unconstitutional” for Japan to use “limited” tactical nuclear weapons in its defense.
The military issue runs deeply into how Japanese identity has, and hasn’t, emerged in the past half-century. Will Japan become a “normal nation” – to use the oft-cited term of art?
This is not a happy development, because a stronger Japanese military would almost certainly be viewed by China as a serious threat, which in turn would feel compelled to beef up its own capabilities– which in turn would threaten Taiwan, South Korea, and the rest of the region. I was in Korea when Pyongyang was showing the IAEA the door, and one of the most interesting things I heard were expressions of concern about how these developments– and North Korean acquisition of nuclear weapons– would be seen by Japan. A number of people I talked to were confident that North Korea wouldn’t attack the South, and were more worried that Japan– which enjoys poor relations with Pyongyang, to say the least– would overreact.
Even though China will be a bigger threat in the future– sooner or later, China is going to start behaving more like the global superpower it already is– memories of World War II are still live. But it would be better for everyone if China didn’t have to wargame scenarios involving an invasion of Japan….