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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Stepping into American boots : Japan's evolving stance on security Douglas, Robert Stuart


The meaning of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution renouncing war and military forces has been reinterpreted extensively over the past half-century, diluting the original intent to the point that it offers few real checks on Tokyo's use of military force. Yet despite the weakening of antiwar provisions, polls show half the Japanese public favors revising the constitution, including Article 9. To explain the significance of a continuing drive to revise Article 9, this thesis first examines the creation and evolution of Japan's military forces from 1946 to present. It shows the precedents that have removed most constraints on the JSDF and how these same processes could be used to further the militarization of Japan. This thesis then critiques the major political arguments that are used to promote revision using a process of elimination to determine that a growing unease about the threat from North Korea is a primary factor in the drive for revision. Finally, this thesis looks at 3 conservative proposals for a revised constitution in the context of escalating tensions between Japan and North Korea to show the increasingly militarist nature of these texts and how they correspond with the changing international situation. The most recent draft proposal by the LDP, if adopted, would give Japan the capability of assuming much greater responsibility for ensuring the peace and security of Northeast Asia: a position in line with the wishes of both a resurgent Japan and an America increasingly focused on the Middle East. In combination, these steps indicate moves by Japanese leaders to take over responsibility for containing North Korea from the United States - to step into American boots for Northeast Asia's security regime.

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