By Zhang Junlan
Several Japanese media recently reported that the Japanese Defense Ministry plans to transform the "Izumo" helicopter destroyer into an aircraft carrier carrying F-35B fighter jets. The move sparked suspicions regarding Japan's further departure from the policy of "purely defensive defense" strategy since the World War II.
As early as in 2015 when "Izumo" was commissioned, the website of U.S. "National Interest" magazine published an article saying that "Izumo" was fully equipped with the capability of a light aircraft carrier and therefore calling it "destroyer" was both misleading and deceptive. If "Izumo" is equipped with F-35B carrier-based aircraft, it will become a true light aircraft carrier.
According to Article 9 of the "Peaceful Constitution", Japan forever renounces war as the nation’s sovereign right and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state is also not recognized.
Japan's defense white paper clearly documented the abandonment of weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles and attack aircraft carriers that could destroy other countries.
The Japanese government argues that the aircraft carrier is not an "offensive carrier" if it is used for defensive purposes, but this is not convincing at all. After all, the purpose of using aircraft carrier is merely the policymakers’ decision.
Asahi Shimbun said in a commentary that the move to renovate "Izumo" will only make the purely defensive defense policy a dead letter.
Over the years, the Japanese right-wing forces have been actively seeking "normalization of the military". They have continuously pushed forward the shift of their defense guideline from "purely defensive defense "to "dynamic defense," the defense policy from "security dependence" to "autonomous security" and the defense forces from "local defense"to"overseas participation."
The Abe government disregarded opposition from home and abroad and forcibly passed the new security act, lifted the right of collective self-defense and expanded the scope of activities of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in September 2015. This marks a major turning point in Japan's post-war "purely defensive defense"policy.
Japan’s defense budget has risen for the sixth consecutive year in the 2018 fiscal year budget approved by the Japanese government and attained historic peak levels.
Supported by the huge budget, the Japanese Ministry of Defense introduced more weapons such as Land-based Aegis missile defense systems, F-35A fighters, long-range cruise missiles and so on in the purchase list, and they will also build new submarines and destroyers.
The alleged "defense" moves by the Abe government are almost out of line. With increasingly sophisticated types of offensive weapons, Japan is now pursuing a military capacity that goes far beyond the scope of self-defense.
Expanding armaments in the name of "defense" and developing new means of attack, this latest trend in Japan’s military strategy should indeed bring concerns to its Asian neighbors and international community.