THE RECENT PUSH FROM U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer for Japan to “consider the benefits of increasing its own defense spending” should be viewed as highly suspect. His suggestion that the nation — whose military forces were restricted to a self-defense role following WWII — invest in new fighter jets with equipment that is compatible with U.S. weapons systems should draw even more scrutiny.
Schieffer, who was an investment buddy with George W. back in 1989 when they and ‘Rusty’ Rose bought the Texas Rangers Baseball Club (ref. State Dept), at best seems more interested in the U.S. defense department’s bottom line rather than in respecting a 1960 agreement which states that both nations will provide mutual support in the event of attack. At worst, Schieffer seems to be looking out for the interests of U.S. weapons manufacturers.
His supposed reasoning? That the Asian nations surrounding Japan are boosting their defense spending. According to the AP article linked above, Schieffer said that China has increased military expenditures by an average of 14.2 percent annually in the last 10 years, while South Korea’s defense budget has grown 73 percent. And that may well be true, but those numbers are out of context. China itself has grown exponentially over the past decade, and South Korea is taking over military operational control from the U.S. in 2012.
If the U.S. is truly interested in Japan bearing more of a load in its own defense, then it needs to consider scaling back its own military presence in the country — a move which many have been calling for in the wake of a sexual abuse case involving a US Marine, only the latest installment in a string of embarrassments. An even better move would be to advocate that all nations in the region curb military spending, taking a proactive approach to averting future tense situations.