This week, South Korea and the United States fired rockets and organized a joint air force demonstration in response to a flood of short-range ballistic missiles fired by North Korea on Sunday.
It was the second time since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has taken such a direct action since taking office in May. He pledged to respond more strongly if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ignored warnings about military provocations and proposals for dialogue.
“The escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the steps taken by North Korea and our response to what we have seen must be something that will put a smile on Japan’s face,” Kim Dong said. -yub from Kyungnam Soul University.
Signs that North Korea is preparing for another nuclear test and resumption of joint military exercises in South Korea and the United States are helping Japan justify its desire to become a normal military state, said Kim, a former naval officer.
For decades, Japan has adhered to a policy of keeping defense spending below 1% of gross domestic product, helping to address concerns about a possible revival of militarism that led the country to World War II.
However, during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Tokyo last month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed that Tokyo was ready to take a stronger defensive stance, which Washington had long welcomed in the fight against increasingly tougher China, more assertive and militarily capable.
Japan said this week it wanted to dramatically increase defense spending “over the next five years.”
“The tougher response of the Yoon government to North Korean provocations will find support in Japan not only as an attempt to discourage the Kim regime, but also as part of a defense of regional order that China has already undermined,” said Leif-Eric Easley. , Professor of International Studies at Ewha University in Seoul.
The update of Japan’s National Security Strategy, scheduled for the end of this year, is expected by the Kishid administration to commit Japan to acquire missiles and other equipment that will allow it to hit enemy bases, a capability that critics say pushes Japan beyond the pacifist constitution. which forbids him to wage war.
POŠUŠINA AT THE TOP
The change in the position of the soul comes at a time when Japan and South Korea are trying to re-establish the relations that accompanied the disputes arising from the wartime past and the Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Yoon said he hoped to meet Kishid soon and work with him to improve relations.
Corey Wallace, an expert on Japanese politics and security at Kanagawa University, said that if Japan gains public support through its enhanced defense policy, better relations with Seoul are a bonus.
“The situation in Ukraine has prompted public support for defense spending in a way that the threat from China has never been. Tokyo sees an opportunity to push on a door that was previously slightly closed,” Wallace said.
“An improved relationship with Seoul is the icing on the cake.”
About 72 percent of the Japanese prefer a stronger military defense, according to a survey of 1,060 people by Nippon Television Network and Yomiuri Newspaper on June 5, and more than half want Japan to increase defense spending. According to other recent opinion polls, most people on Yoon also expect better relations with South Korea.
A stronger combined defense position between South Korea and the United States in relation to North Korea will also help Japan focus more on controlling China, experts say.
“Theoretically, Japan could then devote more of its military resources and new spending to building its military presence in its southwestern maritime region to keep China under control,” Wallace said.
“However, providing Japan with such a level of comfort would require years of positive relations between Seoul and Tokyo.”