With North Korea hell-bent on firing missiles into the Sea of Japan and Japanese leadership unsure of Barack Obama’s resoluteness in honoring the half-century-old mutual defense treaty, Japan is making its own military decisions independent of the United States, according to Reuters.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un seems to be testing Japanese readiness and resolve by slinging medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles toward the island nation. Luckily the missiles so far have been falling into the sea before reaching land.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has ordered to Nipponese Armed Forces to fire from now on, blowing the missiles out of the sky, rather than wait and see if they continue to fall short.
Speaking on grounds of anonymity, a source told Reuters that Minister Onodero’s order is “to prepare for any additional missile launches.” The source further noted that an Aegis guided missile destroyer had been “dispatched to the Sea of Japan and will fire if North Korea launches a missile that Tokyo deems in danger of striking or falling on Japanese territory.”
With growing doubts that Barack Obama has the strength of will to stand up to the Chinese claim of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, Tokyo has elected to take the lead in confronting North Korean aggression in the region.
The White House for its part appears to be playing both sides of the fence, taking “no position on the sovereignty of the islands,” though the Obama Administration reportedly “recognizes that Japan administers them and says they fall under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.”
The string of Obama’s global military missteps, ranging from the Russian invasion of the Crimea to the alienation of Israel to the continued and unchecked gains in Iran’s nuclear weapons program, have left many allies looking at Washington with a jaundiced eye.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been making moves “to beef up Japan’s forces” while seeking to loosen limits on the nation’s military actions due to the “peace constitution” forced on them by the Americans after their surrender in 1945.
Abe has been seeking to amend the nation’s Self Defense Forces (per the current constitution, Japan cannot have a standing army, navy or air force) so the nation can participate in a broader definition of overseas contingencies, as well founding their own amphibious assault force modeled on the U.S. Marine Corps.
With nearly unanimous agreement in global military and diplomatic circles, a nuclear armed Japan scares the North Koreans and the Chinese more than any other deterrent.
There have already been whispers that the Tokyo government is already a de facto member of the nuclear club due to the poorly kept secret that they are in possession of a “bomb in the basement.”