With new nuclear weapons state in the neighborhood and testing of anti-satellite missile by China leading to possible arming of space, is compelling Japan to reconsider changing its pacifist Constitution to protect its interests.
Senior colonel in China’s People's Liberation Army (PLA) Yao Yunzhu predicted that space will be “weaponized in our lifetime” despite promises of peaceful intent by Beijing because the US refuses to honor a proposal of banning weaponization in space. Vowing that the US “will have company” and “China is not going to be the only one,” As the Director the Asia-Pacific Office at the Academy of Military Science in Beijing, Yunzhu’s comments at the World Economic Forum dinner at Davos were the first after a vague confirmation from the Foreign Ministry.
US Admiral Thomas Keating ridiculed Beijing’s criticism saying that China’s test shooting down a ageing weather satellite has “created potential significant problems for international space flight” since China isn’t a country which is “fiercely committed to peace and harmony in the world.” He also warned that his country has a “number of things that are on the list of potential military options” if China or another country tests a similar weapon again but did not disclose what they were. He also pointed out that China must realize the possible collateral damage to other satellites or the Space Station resulting from the debris.
The US already has the capability to shoot down the satellites since 1980s and Russia developed comparable capability. At a Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 2002, Russia and China had presented a draft outline for a treaty to prevent deployment of weapons in space but was spurned by the US arguing that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty guaranteed against space militarization. Moscow disagreed saying that the 1967 treaty banned weapons of mass destruction in space but did not legally bar other weapons such as satellite killer vehicles in space. The issue has since been supplanted by more important global developments such as the Iranian and North Korean, the invasion of Iraq, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and terror infrastructure in Pakistan
Japan joined the US and expressed concern over the possible militarization of space and presents a danger to multiple satellites from various countries. In the first public airing of views Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Parliament that Tokyo must modify its Constitution from its pacifist outlook to develop a greater role in international security including educational modifications instilling patriotism in children. Abe said that Japan’s mission should be “to create a beautiful Japan that will be able to withstand the challenges of the next 50 or 100 years.” Japan views its “alliance with the US” as a “foundation of peace in Asia and the world” but said that the Constitution, written by US Occupation forces after Japan’s 1945 surrender, is preventing his nation from making “contributions that are commensurate with our international status” indicating a willingness to participate in international peacekeeping operations. Abe also said that development of a nuclear weapon by Pyongyang calls for a deterrent from Japan. The Constitution limits the military to a defensive role banning the deployment outside its border to settle international disputes.
Abe is known for his nationalist ideals strongly advocating constitutional revision that his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had supported for a long time. However, there is a lot of domestic pressure in Japan against such changes. First, social activists oppose the move fearing that the economy may be subverted to pump more money into the military at the cost of social programs. Secondly, there is concern that Japanese military may be sucked into dangerous missions such as those in West Asia. Thirdly, Abe’s political opponents charge him of introducing this idea when his popularity rating has plummeted due to increasing charges of corruption and assorted cabinet scandals.
These changes, specifically ideas of “patriotic education,” also increase fears in China and South Korea that faced the intensity of Japanese invasion during World War II.
Analysts expect Abe to push through the legislation before the Parliament session ends in June.