Japan must move to protect itself

What others say

Posted: Monday, December 13, 2004

In the aftermath of World War II, most Americans probably slept a little easier knowing that Japan had adopted a pacifist constitution. Much has changed in the past 60 years, however.

The United States and Japan are allies with a common enemy -- international terrorism. Also, China is undergoing a major military buildup. North Korea has missiles capable of hitting anywhere in Japan, and it may be developing nuclear weapons. The Chinese and Koreans both have a lot of enmity toward the Japanese.

Yet, according to the British Broadcasting Corp., Japan plans to cut its troop levels from 155,000 to 150,000 over the next five years. By contrast, North Korea has 1.1 million troops; China, 2.3 million.

Japan must do more to protect itself. The United States cannot be everywhere for everybody in the world.

Tokyo has taken some tepid steps in the right direction, agreeing to cooperate with the United States on a missile defense system and extending the stay of its small humanitarian contingent in Iraq, for example.

That is not enough, however. Pacifism is a nice theory, but helplessness is not a very good defense against bullies.

The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Dec. 12

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