Since the end of World War II, Japan has adhered to its constitution that has prohibited the use of military force outside of its own borders. Coupled with a security alliance with the United States, Japan has avoided being drawn into war after its defeat in 1945, and many argue that any changes to increase Tokyo’s military commitment would jeopardize the peace that has now been well-established.
Yet given the changing realities of the Asia-Pacific region, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pressing to reinterpret the Japanese constitution, including allowing Japan to join in collective self-defense efforts with other countries.
On June 17, the Woodrow Wilson Center hosted a private luncheon discussion with Shinichi Kitaoka, acting chairman of the advisory panel on reconstruction of the legal basis for security, to discuss why the price of maintaining peace must include the ability to join in collective self-defense operations. This was an opportunity for some of Washington’s top Japan analysts and scholars to exchange views with Japan’s leading authority on the legalities of collective self-defense. Kitaoka was joined by Yoji Koda, vice admiral (retired) of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Noboru Yamaguchi, lieutenant general (retired) of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, and Tsuyoshi Sunohara, secretary general of the U.S. –Japan Project at the Japan Center for Economic Research, as well as the Wilson Center’s Japan scholar Fumiaki Kubo.
The delegation’s visit was part of the inaugural launch of the U.S.-Japan Business/Policy Dialogue in the United States. Launched in April 2014, the dialogue is sponsored by 21 blue-chip Japanese companies including Mitsubishi, Toshiba, and Toyota Motor. The Wilson Center looks forward to continuing to work closely with the group in the future.