Time to Rethink Defense Policies

The whole world has paid attention to the US presidential election. Although the major mass media conglomerates continuously and favorably reported about Clinton’s election campaign, Trump won the election. He appealed to isolationist “America First” feelings. He demands from American-allied countries to share more of the military burden of that part of the US army that is stationed abroad, e.g., in Japan, South Korea or the NATO countries; otherwise, the US troops would be withdrawn. His argument is, however, difficult to accept particularly for Japan because it already covers almost 70% of the total US bases’ costs in Japan.

Facing the dire situation that China has strengthened its control in the South China Sea and has been provoking the Japanese Coast Guard and the Japan Self-Defense Forces in the East China Sea, the US military bases in Japan are essential to deter China from further provocative actions. Obama’s reluctant politics and lack of determination have allowed China to build artificial islands with military facilities in the South China Sea. Likewise, Japan’s avoiding any trouble has allowed the Chinese invasion of the Japanese territorial sea.

Since the ASEAN nations are still not able to make concrete politics against China’s expansion in the South China Sea, Japan needs to defend its most essential sea lanes with countries like the Philippines and Vietnam that share the same interest.

The more chaotic the situation in the US after the presidential election, the better the situation for China. China is more likely seeking a good timing to further expand its power like occupying the Senkaku Islands. In such a scenario Japan could not regain the islands, and the independence of Taiwan and the Ryukyu islands becomes ever more tenuous as a consequence.

Trump said that the US would not play world police anymore. The argument could be forwarded that if therefore some countries strengthen their military powers the world gets more dangerous. However, this might be a very irresponsible argument. Peace has to be gained and maintained. Taking the American-made peace for granted has to be reconsidered now. It is a good opportunity in particular for the US allied countries to rethink their defense policies.

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