The land of backward comics, Harijuku Girls, and cool robots - Japan is HOT! Instead of scary missiles and secret police - Japan built a fun, rich democratic tech saavy, tolerant, egalitarian society with a free, uncensored press, transparent, periodic elections, and independent judiciary that hasn't bothered anyone in over six decades.
A literacy rate of over 99%, Nippon is a wonderful example of the human spirit unbound.
Japan has been a long time ally of Great Satan for eons -- and has the world's second (or third, based on purchasing power parity) largest economy, 2nd biggest contributer to UN, yet Nippon remains dependent on America for its security, a minor military player despite having global economic and political interests.
Her near future strategy will be hooked with like 5 major thingies
Japan’s strategic thinking begins with a clear-eyed view of the challenge posed by China—much clearer than we have in the United States in many respects. Noda, Abe and the rest are fully cognizant of the fact that China is Japan’s largest trading partner and an increasingly important source of tourism and exports.
They also know that China seeks to assert greater control over the seas within the First Island Chain (stretching from Japan to Taiwan and through the Philippines) and that the dispute over the Senkaku Islands is more about that geostrategic struggle than fish, gas or popular nationalism at home. A few years ago, they will tell you, Japan had full control over the Senkaku Islands and the sea lanes stretching towards Taiwan. Now China’s growing naval and paramilitary presence has reduced that to 20 percent and many more PLA and other maritime vessels are being put into service every year.
They also generally concur on how Japan should respond. First, lock-in the U.S.-Japan alliance. This was something the DPJ’s first prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, failed to do with his populist imaginings of an exclusive “East Asia Community.” The result of his theatrical distancing from the United States was a far more aggressive and opportunistic China—a negative development that even DPJ leaders concede would not have happened under the more pro-U.S. Junichiro Koizumi. No political leader on the horizon is likely to repeat Hatoyama’s mistake.
Second, Japan’s leaders know that they must remove the more unreasonable and anachronistic constraints on the Self-Defense Forces. Japan’s military is now the most respected institution in Japan in some domestic polls—a remarkable turnaround for a supposedly pacifist nation. The response to the March 11, 2011 tsunami helped, but support for the military was already on the rise.
a relaxation of Japan’s arms export rules and his defense advisory board recommended lifting the ban on collective defense, which would allow the Defense Forces to engage in collective action with the United States, the same way our NATO allies and Australia can. The prime minister has the power to recognize and activate the right of collective defense; it requires only a reinterpretation of Article Nine (the “peace clause”) of the Constitution rather than the more difficult path of revision. Already Japanese forces are operating in the Arabian Sea with rules of engagement that allow them to use force to help other partners under attack by pirates, the legal distinction being that pirates are criminals and not a state. The next step, well within the realm of political possibility, would give a significant boost to the ability of Japan’s defense forces to operate with the United States and other allies.
Third, Japan should align with other maritime states to maintain a favorable equilibrium in the Pacific. Japan signed security agreements with Australia in 2007 and India in 2008 and cooperation with both countries continued to increase even after the DPJ came to power in 2009. Noda proposed in a speech at the East Asia Summit in Bali in 2011 that Japan help the region establish a new maritime order with clear rules for maintaining peace and stability. He did not need to tell his ASEAN and other counterparts that the challenge to that order would most likely be China. Abe’s enthusiasm for maintaining a maritime coalition led him to propose a “Quad” summit among the United States, Japan, Australia and India when he was last prime minister in 2007. The proposal proved too rich for the other three states, but he will search for new ways to achieve the same strategic alignment when he comes back into power.
Fourth, the country will join the TPP trade agreement. This will seem odd to those who see the LDP candidates campaigning on the theme that they will only join a regime that would allow Japan to carve out exemptions, a stance that makes participation in TPP impossible. But what else can a mostly rural-based party say before an election? In private, the LDP leadership knows that the United States always carves out exemptions—particularly for sugar—and that Japan will find a way to do the same. Business leaders express quiet confidence that the LDP will bring Japan into the TPP, something Noda proposed but failed to follow through on before his party lost popular support. LDP leaders acknowledge that it is an issue of when—not if.
Finally, Japan must find a way to grow its economy. For decades the country managed to have impressive economic growth and keep theGini coefficient (the gap between rich and poor) at the lowest level in the OECD. In the 1990s, that juggling act fell apart and in 2001, Koizumi chose reform and growth over redistribution. The economy grew faster, but so did the Gini coefficient. The DPJ came in to power in 2009 promising to put an end to what they called Koizumi’s “neocon economics” and to massively redistribute wealth through subsidies and tax exemptions. That experiment ended in dismal failure. Noda began to adjust the party’s position on pro-business policies and the LDP will bring the government back full circle.
Does Japan have a strategy? The ends are fairly clear. Establishing the means will be a generation-long effort. In the meantime, Japan remains a powerful nation and an important variable in the security of Northeast Asia.
Pic - " Of course, the Japan-U.S. security pact will continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy."