I've watched the rethinking of a pacifist constitution work its way up through Japan, from pols to the public. After several months, the question of the fifty-two-year-old democracy's military defense and assertion has settled at the top:

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Sunday Japan's war-renouncing Constitution should be revised to enable self-defense.

Koizumi said such an amendment is necessary to carry out joint actions by the Self-Defense Forces with the U.S. military, based on Japan-U.S. security arrangements, Kyodo News Service reported Sunday. He also said the SDF's existence as a military force and its role in international activities should be stated in the Constitution.

"It would be strange for SDF troops not to take joint action with U.S. forces at times when the U.S. forces are being attacked. This should be straightened out in the Constitution," Koizumi said.

Koizumi's Japan is on the cusp of an incredible season change; one that, as I've explained in the first two links, leaves the free world richer at no better a time. America has protected and expanded freedom since the end of the Second World War, often single-handedly. Our unique global philosophy aside, it's no wonder the United States has been able to do so — nations that were free before 1945 spent decades recovering in the shadow of the Soviet Union, and nations democratized thereafter have trod the long path to stability and normalcy. But the difficult task of continuing defense against and elimination of authoritarianism is made easier with regionwide help from allies; American Cold War garrisons should be replaced with native troops, continuing the mission but correctly reassigning the burden. While Continental Europe seems to lack interest in its ability to protect regional interests against tyranny, Japan has made concrete steps to become a true regional power. We can only hope this trend continues.

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