Three Japanese warships left port yesterday to support the U.S. led attacks against Afghanistan. It was the first time since WWII that the Japanese military has been used to support combat forces. The three ships were deployed under a new law that loosens post WWII restrictions on Japan’s military, and marks what appears to be a major shift in Japanese foreign policy.
Junichiro Koizumi was elected Prime Minister amidst pledges that he would end Japan’s decade long recession,liberalize the political system and reform the Liberal Democratic Party, which has run Japan as a virtual one party state since World War II. The debate in Japan over changing the constitution to support military action is part of a broader, deeper debate about Japan’s place in the world and its relation to the United States.
- Steven Clemons, Executive Vice President, New America Foundation.