Late in June Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan would modify its military policy to make contributions to collective defense permissible. In the past, the “peace constitution” has been interpreted to prohibit anything but direct self-defense, which is why the Japanese military is the Self-Defense Force. Mr. Abe outlined four possible scenarios for such action, including assisting the United States against both ballistic-missile attack and strikes on U.S. warships.
The idea of collective defense goes much further. It might include the creation of a Far Eastern defense organization of like-minded governments. The Japanese have already decided that they can sell arms to countries not engaged in war. The combination of Mr. Abe’s declaration and the arms-sales decision could enable Japan to build a kind of Far Eastern NATO. That would not be irrational for the Japanese, considering that Japan depends heavily on seaborne traffic, much of it moving through South Asian waters.
Bearing a Greater Burden