China’s rapid emergence as a world power is causing tension and worrying its neighbours in the Pacific. Their concerns are based on China's aggressive behaviour, its high - and increasing - military spending and general muscle-flexing in southeast Asia. There have been armed incidents at air and sea over territorial disputes, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
East and southeast Asian neighbours, from Japan and South Korea in the north to Singapore in the south, realise that aggression can only be contained by strong military deterrence. That is why they are increasing their defence facilities and maintaining close ties with the US.
Deterrence is only hugely effective if there are capabilities, not only of self-defence but, of retaliation. This means the ability to attack the aggressor in their areas of interest. Without this ability, aggressors could simply try an attack with little risk to themselves.
A strong deterrence is the only way to preserve peace.
Japan's constitution was written in 1947, after its defeat in the Second World War, and under strong American influence.
Article 9 of the constitution - the so-called ‘peace clause’ - stipulates that armed forces with war potential must not be maintained. This resulted in Japan only having self-defence units. But the clause was reinterpreted in July 2014, with strong support from the US, to include the defence of Japan’s allies.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition government won a massive victory, securing a two thirds majority in parliament after he called early elections on Sunday, December 14, even though he was ruling with a comfortable majority.
People were left guessing why the snap election was called when Mr Abe had a sufficient majority to continue his economic policy.
One reason, apart from confirming his economic policies called Abenomics, could have been that he wanted to increase his majority in order to adapt Article 9 of the constitution. This could mean that Japan would be able to adapt its armed forces to really act as a deterrent to possible aggressors such as China to keep them at bay.
If this is the case, then Prime Minister Abe is proving to be more of a statesman and a visionary than his European peers in order to preserve peace.
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