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Japan must disavow pacifism for collective defence


A change in policy would fulfill, not violate, Japan’s national responsibilities as a defensive, responsible reaction to its worsening threat environment.

The question of how to respond to China’s enormous growth and increasing assertiveness is leading countries across the Indo-Pacific to grapple with uncomfortable – even previously unimaginable – policy changes.

Nowhere is this more true than in Japan. Most importantly, Japan must change its attitude toward military statecraft. West Germany’s postwar experience – its need to balance against the grave threat it faced in a responsible way – provides a valuable model.

For decades Japan pursued a highly restrained national security policy in which it avoided military statecraft and spent a bare one per cent of its gross domestic product on defence. But today Japan – and thus the US-Japan alliance – faces a grave threat from China, whose military capabilities have grown tremendously over the last decades.

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