Despite it overtly pacifist Constitution, the Japanese are nobody’s fool. If threatened, America’s main ally in East Asia will certainly hit back… and hard.
Just a few short days ago, the number-two man at Japan’s Ministry of Defense, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso quite plainly stated in a prepared speech that the Japanese Empire would certainly deploy combat troops to the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Of course, that’s only if and when Communist China’s bluff and bluster should turn into missiles and bombs.
Not exactly an insignificant personage in Japanese political circles, as reported by the Nikkei news agency of Chiyoda, Tokyo;
If China invades Taiwan, Tokyo may interpret the move as a “threat to Japan’s survival” and deploy the Self-Defense Forces to exercise collective self-defense, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said Monday.
“If a major incident happened [in Taiwan], it would not be strange at all if it touches on a situation threatening survival,”
Aso said during a speech in Tokyo. “If that is the case, Japan and the U.S. must defend Taiwan together.”
Aso, who also serves as finance minister, is one of four cabinet members who sit on Japan’s National Security Council.
In the meantime, Beijing has certainly been doing more than its fair share of saber-rattling. The New York Post notes that the official CCP mouthpiece, the Global Times, is trying their level best to intimidate Japan (emphasis mine);
The Chinese Communist Party is warning Japan that it will be “digging its own grave” if the country sides with the US to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion — adding Japan is “powerless against the Chinese military.”
“Japan does not dare to confront China alone. If Japan involves itself in the Taiwan question militarily, it will be Japan digging its own grave,” said an op-ed published Wednesday in the Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times.
“Japan’s military capability is completely restrained by the US and does not have an independent combat capability. It is easy for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to paralyze the attack capability of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Japan itself is powerless against the Chinese military,” said the article, written by Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator.
While the People’s Republic is larger in population, land mass and military size, Japan is far from a third-rate power. Even the well respected everything-military website Global Firepower has Japan ranked as the fifth most powerful military on the planet. According to Global Firepower’s power index, Japan has “a score of 0.1599 (a score of 0.0000 is considered ‘perfect’).”
Not only armed with one of the most technologically advanced conventional militaries on Earth, there have been rumors that Japan has “a nuclear bomb in the basement.” In a 2016 report by the Atomic Heritage Foundation;
There have been rumblings of change in Japanese policy in recent years, corresponding with the increasingly threatening presence of nuclear-state neighbors China and North Korea.
After North Korea announced a resumption of its nuclear program in 2009, former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa gave a speech saying that Japan should develop nuclear weapons as a check, though the government condemned his statement.
As recently as 2014, anonymous statements from government officials confirm that Japan has “a bomb in the basement,” i.e. the capability to produce a nuclear weapon in a short space of time.
However, in a 2014 report by NBC News (emphasis mine);
A senior Japanese government official deeply involved in the country’s nuclear energy program, Japan has been able to build nuclear weapons ever since it launched a plutonium breeder reactor and a uranium enrichment plant 30 years ago.
“Japan already has the technical capability, and has had it since the 1980s,” said the official. He said that once Japan had more than five to 10 kilograms of plutonium, the amount needed for a single weapon, it had “already gone over the threshold,” and had a nuclear deterrent.
Japan now has 9 tons of plutonium stockpiled at several locations in Japan and another 35 tons stored in France and the U.K. The material is enough to create 5,000 nuclear bombs. The country also has 1.2 tons of enriched uranium.