Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his speech during the LDP convention in Tokyo on March 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA
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Soon after the brutal murder in January of the Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto by ISIS, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for the country's "biggest reform" of its military posture since the end of World War II.Article 9 of Japan's constitution, which was adopted in 1947 under U.S. occupation, prohibits the country from maintaining armed forces or using force to settle international conflicts. Though interpretations of Article 9 have liberalized over the years, and Japan now maintains a very capable self-defense force, constitutional constraints continue to impair Japan's military capabilities and posture considerably. To be sure, Japan's treaty alliance with the United States provides for its security. Any boost in its military capabilities will meet strong opposition, particularly from China and the Koreas, which continue to insist that Japan's alliance with the U.S. provides it with all the security it needs.Japan has indeed benefited enormously from U.S. protection. Finally, rather than protesting the way Japan's World War II activities are described in U.S. textbooks or squabbling over the number of people murdered during the Nanjing massacre, Japan should seek to help its own citizens understand and process their country's wartime record.
The new nationalism invites a 19th-century response
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