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Friday, November 30, 2012

Japan enlarges military profile

In response to declining international influence, and the growing strength of neighboring China, Japan has begun to expand its military responsibilities, The New York Times has reported.

As detailed in two Icarus Films releases—Kenichi Watanabe's JAPAN, THE EMPEROR AND THE ARMY, and JAPAN'S PEACETIME CONSTITUTION—Article 9 of Japan's post-war constitution stipulates that the country cannot engage in acts of war. Though Japan has maintained a de facto armed forces, The Japanese Self-Defense Forces, it is prohibited from taking offensive action.

The Times story cites a number of recent unprecedented actions that cumulatively suggest that Japan is rethinking the role of the military in light of the declining influence of the United States,
which has traditionally protected the country, its own shaky economy, and the increasing
influence of China, with which Japan has historically troubled relations. These actions include the $2 million in military aid Japan has sent to military engineers for training in East Timor and Cambodia
the first time the country has sent military aid abroad since WWII, a growing number of joint Navy exercises with allied fleets, and an increase in civilian aid to neighboring countries' coast guards, 

There is no evidence that Japan is looking to repeal Article 9, as some have agitated for in the past, but it is clear that the country has been forced to re-imagine its military order. For the complex histories informing these decisions, both JAPAN, THE EMPEROR AND THE ARMY and JAPAN'S PEACETIME CONSTITUTION are must-see films.    

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