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July 28, 2017

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'Collective self-defense' is a threat to Japan's future peace

On Tuesday, the Japanese cabinet approved a dramatic change in the defense policy of the nation. The long-held limitation on the use of armed force, which according to longstanding enumeration of the "Peace Constitution" was strictly limited to the self-defense of Japanese territory, was expanded to allow "collective defense."

This means that Japan's armed forces will henceforth be allowed to join in the defense of allies when the "life, freedom, and pursuit of happiness" of Japanese citizens is put under threat. The quote, itself tracing back to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, was explained as a reinterpretation of Article Nine of the Japanese constitution, in which Japan renounced the right to wage war.

The government in 1972 defined the nation's defense policy as being strictly limited to direct threats to its territory and people and specifically forbid "collective defense."

The Abe government's move is a perversion of the venerable pillar of modern Japan, rooted in the horrors and sufferings of war, that came to define the identity of that nation. With 50 percent of Japan's people opposed to Abe's move, according to a Nikkei poll, it is time for this generation of politicians to forgo their short-sighted push to make Japan supposedly more free from war.

These moves, disguised with slogans that sound patriotic and powerful, cannot help but betray both ignorance and the unwise return to active tit-for-tat struggles against admittedly problematic neighbors such as China.

Abe countered criticism by saying that this is intended to promote peace instead of making the nation more likely to wage war. He appealed to the traditional idea of "deterrence," saying that by projecting Japan's power more broadly it will help stem the tide of war.

The move toward this was a while in coming, with the Abe administration taking incremental steps to loosen the safeguards put in place seven decades ago to suppress the vanquished Asian power. Just a few months ago, the current Japanese cabinet lifted restrictions on exporting weapons based on the same reasoning.

Those safeguards turned out to be to the benefit of the nation during the turmoil of those seven decades, as it grew into a prosperous nation and an economic giant.

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