Commentary: High time for Japan to stop further militarization

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-01 01:03:22|Editor: yan
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by Xinhua writer Yan Lei

TOKYO, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Citing the growing tension on the Korean Peninsula and hyping up the so-called "China threat," Japan's Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday a record-high budget request for the fiscal year 2018.

The 5.26 trillion yen (47.8 billion U.S. dollars) budget request, together with Japan's other moves to boost military capacity, reveals once again the country's tendency of remilitarization, which is legitimately unsettling to Japan's neighbors, given Japan's wartime past and its reluctance to truly reflect upon that past.

Local observers have pointed out that the envisaged giant budget, covering a purchasing list of state-of-the-art weaponry and equipment such as PAC-3 MSE missiles, F-35A stealth fighters, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, apparently far exceeds the needs of a country for "pure defense."

Meanwhile, funds eyed for dispatching more defense officers abroad to collect information, and for promoting military cooperation with countries in Southeast Asia and in Africa, also reflect the nation's ambition to increase its security footprint internationally.

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe re-took office in 2012, under the flag of the so-called "active pacifism," Japan is, in many people's eyes, sliding further and further down the dangerous road of remilitarization.

From lifting ban on collective self-defense right to forced passage of the controversial new security laws which allow Japanese troops to fight abroad, from plans to augment defense budget to advocation of changing pacifist Constitution, the country is deviating from the postwar system that has ensured Japan's peaceful development for the past seven decades.

Japan has even been giving thoughts to acquiring "first strike" capabilities to take out enemy targets, with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera being an outspoken advocate of it before he assumed the current portfolio.

Despite the Abe administration's self-justification with regional "threats" and needs for defense, a remilitarized and belligerent Japan is apparently no good to regional peace and stability, but could trigger more turbulence and even arms race.

For one thing, Japan's remilitarization certainly won't help ease the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, as the past has proven that pressure and sanctions alone will not settle the issue which is long-standing, intricate and complex.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying has said that the only solution is to resolve the legitimate security concerns of all parties in a balanced way through dialogues.

As for the so-called "China threat," the fact is that Japan has been exaggerating it to devise excuses for its own hidden agenda.

While China has repeatedly made it clear that its navy and air force activities are in line with international law, domestic law as well as national defense needs, Japan is the one that is trying to fish in troubled waters and add fuel to disputes in the region.

A recent scandal involving the defense ministry's coverup of activity logs of its peace-keeping troops in South Sudan has also raised doubts among people as to the trustworthiness of the military department and what Japan might resort to do with its growing military capacities.

The huge military spending is also incurring an excessive financial burden to the nation that is already mired in fiscal woes as its arrears continue to stand as the highest in the industrialized world, amounting to more than twice the size of Japan's GDP.

If Japan sincerely wants to contribute to world peace and stability, instead of going farther along the road of militarization, it should do more to promote trust between countries instead of escalating tension and inciting disputes.

It's high time for Tokyo to heed the voices of the people who love peace and bid farewell to history revisionism and militarism and stop muddying the waters in the region.