Following a tense standoff culminating in threats of fire and fury (made by US President Trump after the initial announcement of UN sanctions targeting the DPRK’s primary exports) and hitting the US territory of Guam with missiles, Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Trump agreed on August 15 to cooperate with China and Russia to prevent North Korea from launching ballistic missiles toward Guam. Despite this cooling off, Abe and his cabinet may perceive that Japan cannot solely rely on offensive shield of the US while the probability of miscalculation and diplomatic efforts to derail remain high due to the unpredictability of Trump’s public statements and alliance/trade policy sentiments and North Korea’s desire to remain a nuclear power. Abe, who has sought to forge a close working relationship with Trump, likely calculates he may have the opportunity to capitalize on his efforts to revise Japan’s constitution by 2020, thus enshrining the Self Defense Forces (SDF) while further discerning ways to interpret Article 9 of the constitution that forever renounces war in a time of evolving and fast paced security threats. However, despite the potential space to pursue these objectives, Abe faces several domestic hurdles, including voter sentiment, pacifist supporters, and polling numbers and popularity.
North Korean Aggression: Gift to Abe’s Constitution Revision Ambitions?
This article appeared in “The Raddington Report” on August 22, 2017.
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