Japan may upgrade defence agency to ministry
[Next few posts will deal with East Asia.] This story is the latest in a long string which show that the Japanese are getting serious about greater contributions to regional security. Perhaps far down the road, a US presence in Okinawa won't be necessary -- or Okinawa will be staffed with a token staff, but have the ability to host a large US force at a moment's notice if a crisis develops, as has been the stated goal of Pentagon troop-positioning reforms. Says the article:
The defence chief hinted that his influence was growing, boasting of his victory over the finance ministry in recent budget negotiations. The ministry had wanted to cut the number of ground troops from 150,000 to 120,000 to help pay for new priorities, including missile defence, but the agency got away with a reduction of just 2,000 men, he said. Takao Toshikawa , a political commentator, said there was a growing momentum to upgrade the defence agency’s power. He said it was possible the ruling Liberal Democartic party would bring the issue to parliament in November in conjunction with proposals for constitutional amendments, a process that will be even more crucial in determining the future role of Japan’s armed forces.Aggressive pattern-spotting is not necessary to see the future here. Tha days of Japan's Article 9 restrictions are fading, and whether they do so in a de fact or de jure sense, only time will tell, but the result will be the same: a Japan unafraid to flex its muscles. As the Japan-US security arrangement is among the oldest and strongest treaties we have, this is excellent news.