It seems that the Japanese government no longer seems entirely comfortable relying on America for it's defense.
A draft of Japan's new mid-term defense policy guidelines is calling for the reinforcement of military personnel and equipment in the face of growing regional tensions, Kyodo news agency said.
The draft, obtained by Kyodo, says Japan needs to reverse its policy of reducing its defense budgets in light of North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests, as well as China's rise to a major military power, the news agency said.
The document urges the government to raise the number of Ground Self-Defense Forces troops by 5,000 to 160,000, Kyodo said.
The new National Defense Program Guidelines, covering five years to March 2015, are scheduled to be adopted by the government by the end of the year.
The draft also says there is a need to "secure options responsive to changing situations" of international security, indicating Tokyo's intention of considering if it should be capable of striking enemy bases, Kyodo said.
This is good news. Historical concerns remain, of course, but World War II ended more than six decades ago. The Japan of today is very different than the Imperial Japan of yore -- the mere fact that Japanese have been so reluctant to become a normal country again illustrates the change.
There's still a substantial distance for Japan to go. But the Japanese government is moving in the right direction.
Obviously, peace in East Asia benefits all concerned. That peace will be more sure if Tokyo is prepared to defend itself and help meet regional contingencies. It is time for prosperous and populous allies to stop assuming that Washington's job is to defend them so they can invest in high-tech industries, fund generous welfare states, and otherwise enjoy life at America's expense.