Let's say Japan re-militarizes. How powerful would they be? Could they bring it?

Some say the Japanese have gotten somewhat of a free ride in modernity by not having to support a large military infrastructure, but the flip-side of that deal in a realpolitik calculus for many nations (US included) is that the world doesn’t have to deal with an aggressive, re-militarized Japan.

For arguments sake let’s say the NK pisses the Japanese off so much they decide to re-militarize (defensively) what kind of military horsepower could they bring to the table with their mad technological skillz. Could they kick ass? Would they have their asses kicked? Cant he Japanese bring it, if they wanted to, these days?

The Japanese have the money and the technology to build a kick ass military. I mean, why not? They could have as good a military as anyone.

The barrier would likely be the resistance of the populace, who are not presently very interested in military adventures.

The Japanese have the 2nd or 3rd largest economy on the planet. They have a function space program (more or less). They have a number of working reactor and at least one fast breeder reactor. At minimal cost they can arm themselves with short range ballistic missiles that could simply swamp any NK first strike.

The problem of course is that it places a nuclear armed economic power within a stone’s thrown from China.

The population of Japan is declining, & they do not encourage foreigners to become citizens.

So, there would be problems.

But the hardware & the money–hell yeah.

I suspect that they could create a sizable force of, say, non-nuclear land-based cruise missiles of moderate warhead size, good accuracy & the range to hit Korea or China, in a few months, even with no outside help.

And in their shoes, I would be doing just that.

With Hyperbaric warheads.

The Japanese have had defensive military forces since 1950, and currently have one of the largest defense budgets in the world (over $40 billion last year, which is roughly half of China’s estimated budget). The current interpretation of the pacifism clause in the Japanese constitution is that the Japanese are allowed to have any and all weapons that are “defensive” in nature, which gives them a lot of leeway to work with (they aren’t allowed aircraft carriers and the like, but they don’t really need them). Short of going nuclear, I don’t think there’s much more that Japan could due to defensively re-militarize.

40 billion dollars is a relative pittance for the Japanese economy WRT what defense expenditures are (percentage wise) for most countries. They could do a lot more. The US expenditure for fiscal year 2005 was approx 500 billion dollars.

Here are the top 10 GDPs

Yes, Japan has had an unofficial 1% cap on defense spending for decades that has only been broken once (the conservative PM Nakasone managed to spend 1.001%), and Japan could certainly spend hundreds of billions on its military without collapsing. But your OP spoke of defensive re-militarization. Since Japan already has a budget larger than virtually all of her surrounding neighbors (annual spending double that of South Korea), how much more spending can be justified as “defensive?”

I’ve been wondering recently when Japan was going to build their first armed robot (I do not consider the US’s armed bomb disposal unit a robot). Their consumer robotics have gotten to the point where their ability to locate and track items is quite incredible. It’s not a giant leap to have it point and shoot as well. Their AI is obviously not good enough to have these things go out autonomously, but I could see a version where one person controls a sqad of them, similar to our unmanned aircraft.

I do not think that it is likely to happen, but a militarized Japan would be very interesting.









There’s one thing Japan could do - sail a fleet of short-range nuclear submarines armed with nuclear short-range ballistic missiles. The subs would protect them against a North Korean or Chinese first strike, and the short-range nature of the subs and their missiles would prevent Japan from projecting power around the world, thus possibly keeping within the spirit of their ‘defense only’ policy.

Or, if the people get scared enough, they could say to hell with it and start building a very frightening military. I wonder what kind of hardware companies like Toyota and Fuji heavy industries could crank out on a war footing basis…

I join the Air Force on the day someone builds one of those. I dream of firing clouds of spiraling missiles from launchers that never run out of ammo.

Realistically, the United States would still be number one. Even if Japan decided to invest in a full military, it would only be in the top five or so. In terms of military power, Japan would be the equivalent of France or the United Kingdom - they’d be a player but they wouldn’t own the game.

Last time they felt a little froggy, Japan did a damn fine job of making war. If they decided to make the necessary sacrifices, I have no doubt they could be a serious player. If they go in for nukes, yeah, I could see them making the top 10 easily. Don’t really see them cracking the top 5, when you’ve got the U.S., China, Russia, England, Germany, India, and even France to consider.

Well, I never saw the advantage of a mecha, really. Unless you are fighting gigantic space creatures. :slight_smile: Besides, the real advantage is in not having a pilot, or a pilot that could simultaneously command a squad of robots.

I really just pictured the Honda robot with a gun, but more likely something on the order of a four legged or wheeled robot that could do some really limited decision making on its own, such as target acquisition and independent movement, given a destination. Someone else would make most other decisions, such as to when to open and hold their fire. I am visualisng something like a really stupid version of a Tachikoma (and probably a whole lot less cute).

Both of the problems of autonomous navigation and target acquisition are much closer to being solved than they were even just 2 years ago. But, as far as I know, the closest that we have come to perfecting them are easily-fooled vision systems, and cars that can get fairly far while off-road without getting lost. I think that if a world power such as Japan placed themselves on a wartime footing, and were devoted to the development of these technologies, it would be solved much more quickly.

But then again, this makes me think of the difficulty of desiging an interface that would be both powerful enough to make the damn things effectve, and simple and streamlined enough that you could update what you wanted them to do real-time. So, maybe I am thinking of something that is still way too far into the future to worry about what country could accomplish it.
But I bet if Japan were in a race with another country to do it, they would do it first. That would go a long way twoards being able to “bring it” for a country with a small population compared to some of the other countries they have been lined up against in this thread.

WRT nukes, I dunno if Japan’s populace would ever allow them to develop them, much less use them. Unless, of course, they thought they were about to be bombed with another one.

(As a totally unrelated aside, it would be terrible if we allowed them to be attacked by a nuke from Korea, considering we forced them into the pacifist constitiution after beating them with a nuclear weapon. I wonder how the Japanese people would feel about nukes at that point.)

Scratch Fleegle . :stuck_out_tongue:

The US is really the only country in the world that can effectively project military power on a global basis.

China? They have numbers and nukes.

Russia? Their military is a shambles. They have numbers and nukes (that at this point may or may not work…they take a fair amount of maintenance to remain reliable). Theoretically they can project power but I would not count on much of what they had working well or for long anymore.

England? Probably second to the United States in terms of ability to project power but they are far down the ladder from the US. First rate military but small on the whole.

Germany? IIRC they are in the same boat as the Japanese considering post WWII treaty obligations to not field an offensive military. Like the Japanese they certainly have the industry and technical savvy to be first rate if they bothered to try again. What they do have is certainly top notch.

India? Good military. Nukes and numbers.

France? Probably on par with England give or take.

On the whole if I were betting on another country being able to challenge the US for military might my money would be on the Japanese or Germans (given a bit of time and assuming they had the desire to go balls out and tossed their treaty obligations in the bin). They certianly have the brains and industrial capacity and money for it.

The North Korean-Japanese situation isn’t as unequal today as this thread implies. And in fact has almost happened in the real world. In 2003 Japan let the world know it had studied a strike of the North Korean rocket sites.

Since then, they have upgraded their in-flight re-fueling capability (link has a good overview of the Japanese Air Force’s current capabilities).

Basically Japan currently has an air force of almost 2000 planes and spends almost 8 times per much per year on its Military than does north Korea (NK is a communist country and a 1:1 comparison is preposterous - but it shows at the very least – there isn’t the perceived GAINT gap).

This site ranks Japan as the 7th military in force in the world (North Korea is no. 18) while not including Nukes in the bargain and basing much of the ranking on funding … Still goes to the point that we aren‘t in a David vs. goliath situation here.

Whatever - North Korea has about 1600 planes - virtually all of which are inferior to what the Japanese fly.

Where the North scares Japan, I think is the Missile systems - and most especially WMD‘s. In a conventional conflict, with no intervention, I think, today, Japan would clear the skies and NK would terrorize Japanese Cities with Missile barrages - if Japan were willing to absorb these horrific civilian casualties (like it was 1943 or something) I have no doubt within months not years Japan would completely degrade the North’s military capabilities - I don’t think Japan could launch a land invasion without “remilitarization" postulated by astro. By the same token however, if the U.S. completely withdrew from Asia today, on Thursday North Korea could not defeat the Japanese military and conquer Japan.

As to nukes: Japan has several tons of Plutonium suitable (but not ideal) for nuclear weapons. A Nuclear warhead on a missile capable reaching North Korea would take several pounds of plutonium. From the fairly respected on these matters FAS site

Japan’s nuclear power program based on reprocessed plutonium has aroused widespread suspicion that Japan is secretly planning to develop nuclear weapons. Japan’s nuclear technology and ambiguous nuclear inclinations have provided a considerable nuclear potential, becoming a “paranuclear state.” Japan would not have material or technological difficulties in making nuclear weapons. Japan has the raw materials, technology, and capital for developing nuclear weapons. Japan could possibly produce functional nuclear weapons in as little as a year’s time. On the strength of its nuclear industry, and its stockpile of weapons-useable plutonium, Japan in some respects considers itself, and is treated by others as, as a virtual nuclear weapons state

The Japanese already have the most powerful conventional air force and navy in Asia by far, aside from the US. No other Asian nation except Russia comes even remotely close. Whatever they do not already posess they can produce in a very short time. Virtually all high tech weapons used by the Japanese military are produced entirely in Japan, which means a relatively expensive peacetime army that can ramp up to a war footing very quickly without any outside assistance. Japanese soldiers are as well trained as any other professional Western army.

Comparing the Japanese navy to the fleets of WW2 era Chinese submarines and the air force to Korean war era North Korean/Chinese planes is about as laughable as comparing WW2 tanks to modern MBTs.

I am aware of this.

I also see a tall, dark hansome stranger entering your life.
$50 for the Tarot reading, please.