Russia’s troubling actions — most recently its attack on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant — have triggered a deep alarm that is likely to accelerate Japan’s debate over defense and security policies that had been underway amid China’s growing territorial threat.
The perilous international situation has raised urgent questions about Japan’s readiness and crisis management capabilities under its war-renouncing constitution, and has brought Japan closer than ever to significantly raising its defense spending — a long-standing and controversial debate — as a part of its national security policy review this year.
“It’s a big awakening that there are limitations to what the U.N. can do, limitations to what diplomacy can do, limitations to what economic sanctions can do,” said Akihisa Shiozaki, a member of the governing Liberal Democratic Party who pushed for the change on refugees. “It’s not about rewriting the boundaries of what Japan can do, but filling in the details of what we may not fully anticipate, or may have overlooked, in our preparation.”
Shiozaki pointed to the shift on refugees as an example of one of those aspects of preparation. “In considering future crisis scenarios in East Asia, including the Taiwan contingency, it is necessary to build and maintain the capacity to respond to refugees in times of emergency, even in peacetime,” he said. Details of Japan’s refugee decision are pending, and it remains to be seen how many refugees it will accept.