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Japan's Quiet Revolution

The North Korean nuclear test is sparking fundamental changes in Japanese defense policy.

12:00 AM, Oct 26, 2006 • By CHRISTOPHER GRIFFIN
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While constitutional reform promises to be controversial, the United States can help lay the groundwork for regional acceptance of Tokyo's efforts. Washington should not only welcome an updated constitution as a means to formalize Japan's more proactive posture, but also defend the reform effort to Beijing and Seoul as a step for guaranteeing that Japan's future security policies reflect a meaningful constitutional text, rather than an essentially hollow document that is interpreted and reinterpreted to meet the exigency of the day.

Japan's quiet security revolution is a remarkable achievement for both the Abe government and the U.S.-Japanese alliance. Now it is up to Washington and Tokyo to see that this breakthrough is used as the basis for further efforts to contain North Korea's proliferation and missile development activities, as well as the basis for Japan's continued emergence as a normal power.

Christopher Griffin is a research associate in Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute.