I recently watched a Wide Angle episode titled "Japan's About Face." It was about Japan's self-defense force, or the SDF, and Article Nine, which is the article of the Japanese constitution that prevents Japan from having an offensive military.
Article Nine, along with the rest of the Japanese constitution, was written during the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II.
Much of Japan's former aggression was spurred by its need for resources. After the abolition of aggressive military activity, Japan had to gain needed resources through economic means. Today, Japan has one of the world's strongest economies, with a GNP second to only the United States.
Even though Japan does not have an offensive military, it does maintain a 239,000-strong military with ground, maritime and air force divisions. The SDF spends its time training new recruits and providing aid to foreign nations.
Recently there has been some controversy in Japan over the proposed removal of Article Nine from the constitution. If Article Nine were removed, Japan would be able to provide military aid to the U.S. in the "War on Terror," and the Japanese could feel more secure surrounded by growing China and North Korea.
But many Japanese feel that the removal of Article Nine would lead to war and that the SDF is enough to protect against belligerent nations.
I agree with this mind-set. I wonder why more countries do not adopt non-military policies.
I got to thinking what the U.S. would be like if we had our own "Article Nine." We would still be able to maintain a strong defense force and we could use money now spent on military efforts for social programs. We would have fewer nations behaving aggressively toward us, because we would not be a military threat.
Of course, there are downsides too. If we did not maintain an active military, many members of the military would be out of work. Our nation has come to rely heavily on the military-industrial complex, so just dropping offensive military action would not be a good plan, especially because we are in the middle of a war.
Maybe some day in the future we will adopt our own Article Nine or maybe just a neutrality policy. After all, in a perfect world, war would only be a last resort.
Lindsey Leonard is a senior at West High.