77 Years since World War II, How Can We Prevent a Repeat?

Today [Aug. 15] marks the anniversary of the end of World War II. As we mourn the 3.1 million people who were sacrificed in the conflict, it’s time once again to raise the banner for peace. As we welcome this 77th anniversary, Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

It has become commonplace to see Ukraine battered by shellings and bombings on our televisions every day, the exact likeness of wartime Japan, reduced to scorched earth by air raids. Through our screens, the pain of having one’s life and freedom senselessly stripped away, of completely losing loved ones and livelihoods, is made clear, and so is the need to preserve peace and prevent something like this from happening. Seeing Ukraine pillaged and decimated by its militaristic neighbor Russia, also a neighbor to Japan, has been a shock to us as well.

This isn’t just a Russian problem, however. With tensions escalating with Taiwan and the United States, China has conducted large-scale military drills, launching a ballistic missile into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. North Korea also continues its own missile and nuclear development.

As Japan’s national security is threatened, what can it do to maintain peace? This was a major issue leading up to last month’s upper house elections, where many parties took a serious stance, vowing to strengthen and improve upon the country’s defenses. The hope is that this would temper any would-be attacker’s fears that Japan would launch a counterattack. Parties that advocate this plan say they’d raise defense spending to achieve this. With these parties pulling out numerous victories after the dust of the election settles, Japan’s security policies look to be in for a change. Until now, defense spending has been limited to 1% of Japan’s gross domestic product, but now the Liberal Democratic Party looks to raise that to at least 2% within the next five years, a departure from the previous policy of relying on America in order to keep defense spending down.

This will be a massive increase, and with the expected enlargement of welfare spending, inflation stemming from the invasion of Ukraine and the continued drain on resources by COVID-19, many doubt exactly where the funds will come from.

We also must not allow ourselves to fall into an arms race by focusing on defense. We must actively encourage talks between China and the United States not only to prevent an arms race, but to promote disarmament between the two countries. There will be opposition, even from America, the leader of the free world. It will be vital for Japan to stick to peacetime diplomacy. Particularly as a member of the Asian community, Japan must work with countries in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific to help maintain the international order.

Sustaining peace while protecting people’s lives and livelihoods: Japan’s path to national security has reached a crossroad that requires the help of each and every citizen to overcome. On the anniversary of the end of our deadliest conflict, today is a good time to start.

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