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Germany and Japan: Pacifism to re-militarization

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Growing Chinese assertiveness, the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula by north Korea, and emerging trends of militarisation & proliferation of weapons at the global level have forced nations like Germany and Japan to shed their weak shield of pacifism to manifest their interest and defend their sovereignty.

How did Germany and Japan turn Pacifist?

World war 2 turned these nations of the brutal military into pacifist spectators. Both nations suffered a large number of fatalities with more than 350,000 germans & approximately 31,00,000 Japanese being killed, two japan cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devasted by the nuclear bombing of the US.Two plus four agreements signed after WW2 barred Germany from the acquisition of nuclear weapons and limited its armed forces personnel to 374,000 of whom not more than 345,000 are allowed in the navy and airforce. The current status of Bundeswehr{german military} is catastrophic due to meager spending of just 1.2% of GDP. Military readiness is below 50%.

On another hand, Japan just after ww2 adopted a pacifist constitution in which article 9 ‘The peace clause’ prohibits the nation from the use of threat or force as means of settling international disputes. Japan does not possess nuclear weapons rather it relies on US extended nuclear deterrent.

Events that forced the nations to shed their pacifist nature


1. Putin’s dream of ‘Greater Russia’: Recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia has raised the alarms for its neighbors like Moldova and Georgia. Moscow’s actions have posed a huge question mark over European Security architecture. Re-militarization of Germany is aimed at countering Russian expansionism, preparing berlin for self-defense, and reduction of its dependence on the US. 


2. Russia-china Belligerence: China and Russia have stepped up military cooperation in recent years against US-led regional partnerships. In October 2021, a fleet of 5 warships each from china and Russia circled japan as they traveled through the pacific. Recently, Russia deployed a coastal defense missile system near disputed islands off the northern coast of Hokkaido. China and Russian warplanes flew together near japan’s airspace causing Japanese fighter jets to scramble.
3. China’s assertiveness in the South China sea: Recently four Chinese coast guards entered Japanese waters on senkaku island. Currently, japan controls senkaku island, claimed by china which calls it ‘diaoyu island’. Beijing has started to militarize disputed islands of the south china sea, it has set up a military base in the fiery cross reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief reef.
4. Threats from North Korea: Korean peninsula shares a historical rivalry with japan. The weakened military of japan further triggered threats from North Korea. In 2017, one of North Korea’s missiles flew over Hokkaido and landed in the pacific. In September 2021, another missile fell within the 200-nautical mile Exclusive economic zone off northwestern japan. As of 2020, North Korea possesses an arsenal of approximately 30-40 nuclear weapons.

Beginning of New-era: Re-militarization


German chancellor Olaf Scholz just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine said: It’s time to start preparing berlin for self-defense to not only defend our sovereignty but also to strengthen European security. He announced €100bn of investment in defense. He further added that Germany will increase its GDP spending to 2% on the military & acquisition of modern-era weapons.

List of weapons berlin will add to its arsenal:
1. F-35 combat aircraft: US-built aircraft are at the top of Bundeswehr’s shopping list. It can carry all types of weapons and its design and coating make it difficult for radar to detect it.
2. Arrow 3: Israeli anti-missile shield which compliments the iron dome to protect Israel from rockets. It can shoot down long-range ballistic missiles. It will greatly boost the air defense of berlin.
3. New heavy-lift transport helicopters: These will replace berlin’s age-old Sikorsky ch-53s helicopters built in the 1960s.
But, the list of what the Bundeswehr needs to be competitive in the 21st century is a long one from navy ships to radio equipment and ammunition. Clearing the Backlog of berlin’s defense caused by decades of underfunding will take some time.


According to Global firepower, japan’s defense budget ranked 6th in the 2021 ranking of 140 countries. Japan’s newly elected prime minister Fumio Kishida vowed to double the defense budget in Tokyo. The Japanese cabinet recently approved $6.8bn in extra spending to bolster its military capabilities. In 2021, japan’s defense spending amounts to $53.2bn, a jump of 15% from 2020. Tokyo is also buying 147 F-35 aircraft, including 42 F-35Bs from the united states.
Former Prime minister Shinzo Abe’s reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution in 2015 through ‘japan military legislation’ allowed Tokyo to send its soldiers outside in foreign conflicts to help out allies. In 2018, the Japanese Marines were reactivated which was disbanded since WW2. In, 2019 Tokyo further developed supersonic glider bombs and hypersonic missiles.


While re-militarization of Germany and Japan will surely deter warmongering china and Russia but will put the globe at much greater risk of world war 3. Boost to berlin’s military will skyrocket nato’s military strength but at the same time, Moscow’s resistance will lead to confrontation and conflict. Japan’s increase in the defense budget will further strengthen the quad in indo-pacific while Chinese assertiveness will pull the region into disputes. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore said ‘the nation which acquires dangerous weapons is more at risk than its enemies’ seems to be the truth of the time.

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