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Journal of Public and International Affairs , Volume 14/Spring 2003 Copyright 2003, the Trustees of Princeton University http://www.princeton.edu/~jpia 5 C ONSTITUTION AND S HIELD : D ILEMMAS , O BSTACLES AND C HOICES ON J APAN S P ATH TO N AVAL B ALLISTIC M ISSILE D EFENSE Sourabh Gupta Sourabh Gupta is a Master of Arts candidate in Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (sg235@georgetown.edu). The spread of ballistic missile technology in Northeast Asia over the past few years has underscored the serious threat that ballistic missiles pose to Japan’s security. While Japanese constitutional limitations preclude the exercise of coercive diplomacy, Japanese policymakers are actively exploring the possible deployment of an anti-ballistic missile defense shield as a means to counter the missile threat. Development of a shield, however, remains at an early stage, and budgetary, strategic and constitutional concerns are substantial. This article recommends that, having taken the decision to move ahead with prototype testing, Japanese policymakers now need to transition from the research phase of missile defense to the development and acquisition phases. However, Japan must first make difficult decisions about amending, or at least reinterpreting, its constitution.
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2 On August 31, 1998, North Korea launched a three-stage rocket that over-flew Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean. Though the third stage involved a failed attempt to place a 35-pound satellite into orbit, the success of the first two stages, believed to be a 2000- kilometers range Taepodong-1 missile, was sufficient to drive the Japanese government into a state of elevated anxiety. 1 Within a month of the launch, both houses of the Diet passed unanimous resolutions condemning the brazen act. Three months later, Japan decided to produce and deploy optical reconnaissance satellites. And within a year, Japan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States to conduct a five- year collaborative research program on ballistic missile defense. In October 2002, and almost eight years to the day after the signing of the so- called “Agreed Framework” between the United States and North Korea, Pyongyang blithely acknowledged that it had sought uranium enrichment technologies and designs. North Korea has since threatened to revoke its pledge to abide by a missile-testing moratorium that was scheduled to expire later this year. The North Korean challenge, substantial as it is, may nevertheless pale in comparison to longer-term threats to Japan’s strategic interests. China is currently believed to be at only an incipient stage in a major upgrading of its strategic missile forces. If military history is any guide, advances in offensive weaponry and strategy typically complicate existing defense dilemmas. For Japan this dilemma remains particularly acute, given that existing constitutional prohibitions and societal inhibitions make it difficult for Japan to exercise even collective self-defense, let alone to practice coercive strategic diplomacy.
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