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2015-10-16

日本自衛隊 還是無牙老虎○聯合(2015.10.16)

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這篇文章點出了:無須擔心日本的軍國主義。因此,

1.  北京講日本擴軍根本是假議題!
2.  日本國內在反對什麼軍國主義?


日本自衛隊 還是無牙老虎○聯合(2015.10.16)
日本國會通過新安保法,集體防衛權解禁後,有人開始探討從來沒在實戰中開過槍的日本自衛隊究竟能不能打仗?亞洲軍事分析家蓋迪(Franz-Stefan Gady)在英國廣播公司(BBC)網站撰文,細說日本自衛隊的角色演變,結論是在重重限制下,日本自衛隊仍將是「無牙的老虎」(toothless tiger)。

文章指出,日本明治維新時期以富國強兵為口號,在二戰爆發前,日本奉行軍國主義,軍隊的地位優於國家。二戰造成二百七十萬名日本人喪命,和平憲法一度不准日本擁有常備部隊,韓戰爆發讓美國同意日本成立自衛隊,防堵共產中國勢力擴散。但日本軍方在國民心目中形象一落千丈,早期的怪獸電影「哥吉拉」,自衛隊一籌莫展。自衛隊成立初期,穿制服在街上走還會被丟石頭。

冷戰結束後,一九九年代起,日本自衛隊加入聯合國維和部隊,曾派駐在伊拉克南部,但是得靠別人保護。有次不小心機關槍走火,還上了全國新聞頭版。

原本限制解除後,擁有第四代戰車、第五代戰機等先進武器的日本自衛隊,有潛力成為戰鬥勁旅,但需要克服許多限制。例如,轟炸機、航空母艦、長程彈道飛彈等攻擊性武器仍屬違憲。日本社會依然存有「好男不當兵」的說法,認為加入自衛隊的不是學業成績吊車尾就是鄉巴佬。

關於釣魚台的奪島作戰是美日聯合軍演的固定主題,一旦發生,蓋迪認為,自衛隊因為缺乏實戰經驗,一開始難免慌亂,但以自衛隊平常勤於演練和優異的指揮參謀能力,可以逐漸穩住陣腳,只是無法長期獨自防禦或轉守為攻,因為缺乏攻擊性武器,人員裝備也都不足。重點要看美國願意出多少力。

有意思的是,美日雖有安保條約,卻非相互防禦。簡言之,日本對美國並無協防的義務。蓋迪認為,除非北京意圖奪島或者北韓朝日本射飛彈,否則,日本「出兵」的可能性跟哥吉拉從日本海再度浮起,一樣地遙不可及。


Toothless tiger: Japan Self-Defence ForcesFranz-Stefan Gady (2015.10.15)
Asia military analyst Franz-Stefan Gady asks just how fighting fit are Japan's so-called Self-Defence Forces?

Japan's relationship with its armed forces was once a defining characteristic of the nation.  Indeed, "Fukoku kyohei [Enrich the state, strengthen the military]" was the battle cry of the reformers who founded modern Japan during the so-called Meiji Restoration beginning in the 1860s.

In the first decades of the 20th Century, Japan, rather than a state with a military, the island nation slowly transformed into a military with a state - "one hundred million hearts beating as one", as a wartime propaganda slogan boasted.

That all changed after the World War Two.

From offence to defence
The country's complete defeat, not to forget the deaths of 2.7 million Japanese men and women, ended Japan's love affair with its military.

A new constitution, written by the victorious occupying Americans, outlawed the creation of any regular armed forces.  Japan was to be a "heiwakokka [peace nation]".

However, after the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the United States, fearing Communist expansion in Asia, pushed Tokyo to rearm.

To fight off "Red China", the US established the Japan Self-Defence Forces, a military that to this day has not fired a single shot in anger.

Unable to prove their worth in battle and confronted by an almost cult-like anti-militarism, throughout the Cold War, the JSDF suffered from public ridicule and disdain.

Just watch any of the early Godzilla movies showing the JSDF as an unimaginative and - more importantly - ineffective group of men incapable of defending Tokyo from the monster's wrath, and you can capture some of the public sentiments during that time.

Service members walking city streets in uniform in the early days of the JSDF were even pelted with stones.

Accidental heroes
At the end of the Cold War, in the 1990s, Japan's armed forces were finally able to polish up their image - not on the battlefield of course, but as an international peacekeeping force.

The JSDF deployed briefly in southern Iraq as part of the US "coalition of the willing", although they had to rely on others, including the Iraqis, for protection.  Indeed, the JSDF are so adverse to violence that when a machine gun went off by accident, it made national headlines.

They also won plaudits for their role in rescue and relief missions after, for example, the Kobe-Awaji earthquake in 1995 and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

To this day, this is how the majority of Japanese see the JSDF - a disaster relief force.

Fast forward to 2015, where things appear to be changing under the leadership of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party.

Two controversial security bills that passed the upper house of the Japanese Diet - Japan's parliament - this September, will allow the JSDF to come to the defence of its allies even when Japan itself is not under attack.

Formidable fighting force
Despite much domestic and international hysteria that Japan could now be drawn into foreign conflicts, and potentially even launch a war, closer scrutiny reveals it still has a long way to go to cast off its pacific post-War legacy.

For one thing, under the new legislation, the JSDF can only come to the aid of an ally under three conditions:
  • Japan's survival is at stake
  • all other non-military options have been exhausted
  • the use of force is limited to the minimum necessary to deter aggression

In addition, the JSDF can come to the rescue of other UN peacekeeping troops and Japanese civilians in danger and would be allowed to use their weapons first, not just strictly for self-defence.

Notwithstanding the narrow circumstances of action, the JSDF at least have the potential to become a formidable fighting force.

For one thing, the Japanese culture with its traditional emphasis on group cohesion, careful planning, and attention to detail - particularly important in today's hi-tech military environment- is an ideal for modern soldiering.

Indeed, American sailors, soldiers and marines who train with the JSDF and participate in various joint military exercises every year to increase operability are generally impressed by the competence of their Japanese counterparts.

The JSDF also sport some of the most modern military equipment in all of Asia, including modern fourth-generation main battle tanks, licence-built Apache attack helicopters, modern reconnaissance drones, and will soon receive new fifth-generation fighter jets.

Japan's navy, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), is considered to be technologically more advanced, more experienced, and more highly trained than its likely adversary - China's the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).  It also has its own highly trained special forces outfit - the Special Boarding Unit.

However, major, cultural, legal and budgetary restrictions remain.

For example, Japan continues to ban "offensive" weapons such as bombers, aircraft carriers, and long-range ballistic missiles and has no plans to acquire them in the foreseeable future, since they remain unconstitutional.

In addition, despite some improvements, the JSDF continue to enjoy a somewhat dubious reputation as a pool for "ochikobore [drop-outs from the regular school system]" and "inakamono [country bumpkins with strong regional dialects from Kyushu in the south and northern Honshu]".

How would the JSDF do in a military conflict with China over let's say the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands - a scenario that the US and Japan are practising every other year?

The JSDF would probably suffer initial setbacks under the chaotic conditions of the battlefield like any other force with no experience in combat, but - given their penchant for constant drill and exercises for such a contingency as well as their excellent planning ability - would do very well on the defence.

Godzilla can rest easy
However, the truth is that Japan's military would not be able to defend Japan alone in the long-run nor go on the offensive, primarily because of its lack of offensive weapons, limited manpower and equipment pool.

Behind the JSDF stands the US, and therein lies any strength it might wield.

Japan still has no obligation to support the United States in a conflict - the two countries, despite public impressions to the contrary, still have no mutual defence pact.

Japan can pick and choose whether it would like to support the United States in a conflict or not.  In reality, this means that Japanese support for the United States in any future conflict is not a foregone conclusion.

This undermines their bilateral defence cooperation.

So what are the chances that the JSDF will fire a shot in anger anytime soon?  Unless, China attempts an invasion of the Land of the Rising Sun, or North Korea launches one of its missiles against Tokyo, I'd say chances are as high as Godzilla re-emerging in the Sea of Japan.
Franz-Stefan Gady is a senior fellow at the EastWest Institute and associate editor at The Diplomat magazine.


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