Washington International Law Journal


Chris Ajemian


The 1997 U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines represent additional commitment by Japan to the U.S.-Japan security alliance, the primary source of Northeast Asian security and stability. Certain tasks within Japan's enhanced role raise questions of whether the Guidelines are compatible with Article 9 of Japan's Constitution. On its face, Article 9 renounces Japan's right to wage war or maintain military force, yet it has been interpreted to allow a defensively-oriented, though massive, military. Based on the existing interpretation of Article 9, it is likely that Japan will declare its new role under the Guidelines constitutional. U.S. policy toward Japan in the short-term is to clarify the division of roles in the alliance to stabilize Northeast Asia. This Comment argues that the U.S. security guarantee prevents Japan from acting like a self-sufficient country. Consequently, U.S. long-term policy should be to withdraw from the role of Japan's protector wherever possible to encourage Japan to act more like a leader internationally.

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