Fortune: On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, But with the world’s 6th best-equipped troops and a nearly $60 billion defense budget last year, the SDF is not composed of your average beat cops

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August 19, 2013 by Water Wisdom

 

On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world.

Japan’s armed forces are euphemistically dubbed the “Self Defense Force” (SDF) — officially it’s an extension of the police.

But with the world’s 6th best-equipped troops and a nearly $60 billion defense budget last year, the SDF is not composed of your average beat cops. “Japan enjoyed an isolationist status until now,” says Narushige Michishita, a past adviser to Tokyo on defense and now director of the security and international program at Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. “It was very convenient; we didn’t have to get involved in conflicts. But now the U.S. wants Japan to be more proactive,” he says.

Japan’s ruling party, the LDP, acknowledge this. “They know we have to be commensurate with our stature as an economic superpower,” he adds. “The U.S. is asking us to be more proactive in, not rearming, but making use of those arms.”

Now that the LDP’s conservatives are returned to power, including their hawkish prime minister Shinzo Abe, they are demanding a change in the pacifist constitution which would chime in nicely with the U.S.’s desires in the region. Not that Japan is truly pacifist, or ever has been — not with one of the best-trained forces in the word says Michishita. “We are not passive in that sense. We supported all the U.S. wars, contributing $30 billion to the Gulf war. Japan isn’t remilitarizing — we are already there.”

What the U.S. and the new rulers in Tokyo want is a Japan willing to fight as part of a pivot away from Europe toward Asia, by which they mean China.

Prime minister Abe will have little trouble with such a containment policy, promising a “stronger” Japan in the face of “harassment” from China over a territorial dispute near Chinese waters. He also wants Japan’s military to be able to fight alongside its allies. Something the current constitution, written by the US after WWII, prohibits.

The U.S.’s posture rebalancing, or “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region, was flagged up by President Obama’s extraordinarily lengthy tete-a-tete with the Chinese premiere recently. Behind the smiles are deep anxieties over China’s rising economic and military strength that challenge U.S. power in the Pacific. Obama had also personally urged Xi Jinping to “de-escalate, not escalate” tensions over territorial disputes with Japan.

The U.S. is content to have Japan, with an active military larger than the U.K.’s, prepared more readily to fight in its corner should Xi not heed the President. “Japan is truly essential, as both a strategic outpost for the U.S. military and customer for the U.S., as well as a strategic actor in its own right,” says Corey Wallace, lecturer at the University of Auckland on Asia-Pacific international relations and a Japanese military technology expert.

A properly remilitarized Japan might also help the nation out of its current economic hole. Japan last year eased its self-imposed ban on arms exports. This end of pacifist foreign policy opens up new markets for its defense contractors — good news for struggling military tech sector giants such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Ishikawajima-Harima. For decades they had allegedly relied on billpadding and overcharging. Exports could be a new lifeline..

 

Already Australia and Vietnam have voiced an interest in purchasing some of Japan’s more advanced military technology. The country’s submarines are especially admired, says Wallace, and will be particularly appropriate for the types of contingencies we are likely to see in the Western Pacific. Small skirmishes, not nuclear war. “Japan’s most recent diesel-electric E submarine, the Soryu, is considered one of the best non-nuclear submarine systems around,” he says.

Japan has a taste for pricey defense hardware which shows in its high-spec armaments. Typical are the Japanese first-class destroyers, with the latest advanced technology developed combat system (ATECS) that spent 20 years in domestic development. Add to this the knowledge that Japan could be nuclear capable given six months (something a few believe it has secretly achieved already) should its rulers wish it. Japan could quickly become one of the top military powers in the world. All it would take for the planet’s third-richest nation is to stick its collective head above the parapet and cease being, well, invisible.

日本隐形军队揭秘

作者: Michael Fitzpatrick

时间: 2013年08月07日 来源: 财富中文网

日本宪法禁止它拥有传统意义上的常备军。但它的现役军队规模比英国还大,是世界上最精良的武装力量之一。据信,只要需要,日本6个月内就能拥有核武器。美国和日本政界新的领导人都想要一个召之即来,来之能战的日本,以配合美国军事轴心从欧洲向亚洲的转移,遏制不断崛起的中国。

从名义上说,日本是和个平主义国家。根据人道视野组织(Vision of Humanity)编制的全球和平指数(Global Peace Index),日本在世界最和平国家中排名第6。根据日本宪法规定,拥有传统意义上的常备军是不合法的。但最新发布的国防白皮书显示,日本已经到了拥有世界上装备最精良的“隐形”军队之一的程度。

日本的武装部队被委婉地称为“自卫队”(简称SDF),从官方来说它是警察的延伸。

但日本自卫队的装备精良程度在世界排名第六,还在去年获得了近600亿美元国防预算,绝不是由一般的防卫警察组成。“至今,日本仍享受着孤立主义者的身份,”日本前防卫顾问、现任政策研究大学院大学(National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)安全和国际项目主任的道下德成说。“这非常便利,我们不需要卷进任何冲突。但现在美国想让日本扮演更加主动的角色。”

日本的执政党自民党(LDP)承认了这一点。“他们知道我们必须和日本经济强国的身份相匹配,”他补充说。“美国要求我们能更主动,不是去重建军队,而是把现有部队用起来。”

由于自民党的保守派重掌政权,其中包括鹰派首相安倍晋三,他们要求修改和平宪法,刚好迎合了美国在这个区域的意图。日本拥有世界上训练最有素的军队之一,并不是、也从来不是真正的和平主义者。道下德成说:“我们在这方面并不被动。我们支持了美国所有的战争,为海湾战争贡献了300亿美元。日本并不是在重新军事化,我们早就军事化了。”

美国和日本的新统治者们想要的是一个愿意作战的日本,配合美国军事轴心从欧洲向亚洲的转移,而它们在亚洲的目标直指中国。

考虑到靠近中国海域的中日领土争端,首相安倍会欣然接受这样的围堵政策,因为这意味着在中国的“骚扰”面前承诺一个“更强大”的日本。他还希望日本军队能够和它的同盟国一起作战,而美国在二战后制定的现行日本宪法禁止这一点。

近期美国总统奥巴马和中国新一届领导人进行了时间格外长的首次促膝交谈,彰显了美国战略重心向亚太地区转移的背景。微笑的背后,是对中国的经济和军事力量的崛起威胁到美国在太平洋地位的深深焦虑。奥巴马也亲自敦促习近平“缩小、而不是扩大”和日本的领土争端。

作为美国的同盟国,日本的现役军队规模比英国还大。一旦习近平拒绝顺从奥巴马,日本也会比英国更有准备地投入作战,这一点让美国很满意。“日本真的极其关键,既充当着美国的战略前哨,又是它的客户,而且还是美国利益的战略行动国,”奥克兰大学(University of Auckland)亚太国际关系讲师和日本军事技术专家科里•华莱士说。

一个适当再武装的日本可能也会帮助它跳出目前的经济大坑。去年日本松动了自行规定的武器出口禁令。这项和平外交政策的终止为它的国防承包商开辟了新的市场,给三菱重工(Mitsubishi Heavy Industries)和石川岛播磨重工(Ishikawajima-Harima)这些苦苦挣扎中的军用技术巨头公司带来了大好消息。据说,几十年来它们都不得不依赖在费用上做手脚或收过高的费用来维持。出口会成为这些公司新的生命线。

澳大利亚和越南已经表示有兴趣从日本购买一些更先进的军事技术。华莱士说,日本的潜水艇尤其受到青睐,而且将特别适合在西太平洋可能发生的那类意外事件中使用——应对一些小规模战斗,而不是核战争。他说:“外界认为日本最新的柴电潜艇苍龙号(Soryu)是目前最好的非核潜艇之一。”

日本喜欢昂贵的国防硬件,这一点在它的高科技军备中也有体现。最典型的是日本顶尖的驱逐舰,搭载国内研发了20年的最先进技术作战系统(ATECS)。此外,一旦日本领导人需要,它能在6个月内能拥有核武器(有些人相信日本已经秘密地做到了这一点)。日本能够迅速成为世界顶级军事力量,只要这个世界第三大经济体把头从土垛里探出来,不再隐身。

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