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INTRO:  Japan's military plans to play an increasingly 
important role in maintaining security in Asia and the 
world over the coming years, according to the Japanese 
defense attache to the United States.  V-O-A's Leta 
Hong Fincher has this report from Washington.  
TEXT:  Major General Noboru Yamaguchi says the 
Japanese military is likely to play a more active role 
in keeping the global peace in the future.  He says 
the Japanese are peace-loving, but they're becoming 
more pragmatic about the threats posed by rogue 
nations in Asia such as North Korea.
Speaking at a conference Tuesday about Japan's 
security role in the 21st Century ( at Johns Hopkins' 
School of Advanced International Studies), General 
Yamaguchi said his countrymen are willing to see their 
military participate in more international 
peacekeeping missions.
            /// FIRST YAMAGUCHI ACT ///
      In the post-Cold War period, every country is 
      expected to make some contribution to the 
      international community in response to what such 
      country has gained.  As a nation, Japanese now 
      have become more accepting towards its military 
      contributing to international affairs.
            /// END ACT ///
Japan has one of the best military forces in Asia, but 
it is restricted by its constitution to self-defense 
only. After Japan's defeat by the United States in the 
second World War, it adopted a pacifist Constitution 
that was largely written by U-S General Douglas 
MacArthur and his forces. That constitution was 
designed to prevent Japan from ever emerging as a 
military aggressor again, by outlawing war and the use 
of force as a means to settle international disputes.  
But in recent weeks, the Japanese parliament, or Diet, 
has begun to discuss possible changes to the 
constitution to allow greater flexibility in the use 
of the military.  Richard Cronin, a specialist in 
Asian affairs with the Congressional Research Service, 
says the mere fact that Japanese politicians are 
talking about changes to their constitution is 
            /// CRONIN ACT ///
      The changes basically have to do with the 
      question of whether Japan can participate in 
      collective security endeavors.  Right now Japan 
      is in a bilateral security alliance with the 
      United States but it's one that basically 
      involves the United States providing security to 
      Japan in return for facilities that it uses in 
      Japan, but doesn't require Japan to come to the 
      aid of the United States in a conflict. 
            /// END ACT ///
Mr. Cronin notes that Japan's current constitution 
prevents it from forming defense alliances with 
countries other than the United States. But if the 
constitution were changed, Japan could engage in 
collective security alliances for North East Asia 
along the lines of the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization in Europe.
Michael Green, an Asian security specialist at the 
Council on Foreign Relations, says both the ruling 
Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition party now 
want Japan to play a more independent and active 
security role.
            /// GREEN ACT ///
      What's striking is that particularly younger 
      politicians, which in Japan means under 50, are 
      very eager to demonstrate Japan's readiness to 
      take on more of a security burden.  On the 
      constitutional question, 90 percent of 
      politicians under 50 want to change the 
      constitution.  So generational change is moving 
      things forward.
            /// END ACT ///
Michael Green of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Most observers agree there's still a deep-seated 
anxiety in Japan about not moving too quickly to 
expand its military role. The defense attache in 
Washington, General Yamaguchi, says it's a sign of 
greater openness that the public is discussing 
possible constitutional changes.
            /// SECOND YAMAGUCHI ACT ///
      The recent development in the Japanese public is 
      rather healthy.  The change of constitution, 
      even thinking about changing the constitution, 
      used to be kind of taboo.  But now, according to 
      newspapers, I found there are serious and 
      constructive discussions on the constitution.
            /// END ACT ///
General Yamaguchi predicts a steady increase in 
Japanese defense spending over the next four to five 
years. That would please Washington, which wants Tokyo 
to bear a larger share of the cost of U-S forces 
stationed in Japan. (Signed)
01-Mar-2000 19:12 PM EDT (02-Mar-2000 0012 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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