Over the course of three weeks last July, North Korea launched three missiles over Japanese territory, one of which landed in Japanese waters. In just four years, Japan has increased its military budget by 17.9%. In response to North Korea’s showcases of hostility, Japan has begun to increase its military spending to restore its once strong armed forces. An increase in military power would ensure Japan’s ability to protect itself and others—an audacious yet strategic idea.

These recent threats from North Korea have caused mass panic in both the government and residents. In addition, they have spurred many Japanese officials to take action for the improvement of the military. Almost all Japanese citizens agree that they need to be cautious of North Korea and improve their defenses. Many think that they should also improve their offensive ability. In support of this, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono stated, “Now is the time for the international community as a whole to maximize the pressure on North Korea to take concrete actions toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Japan and other nations could take action by implementing further sanctions on North Korea, though these ideas have been mainly disregarded and wouldn’t be as beneficial to Japan. Using sanctions would actually hurt Japan because they are using this as a way to increase their military power, so they can help the rest of the international community even after the threat of North Korea has been subdued.

As much as the Japanese want to build their defenses, they are also looking to approve the acquisition of offensive weapons for the first time since World War II. However, when Japan lost the war, the US made the Japanese government add Article 9 into their Constitution. This article prevents Japan from taking action against other countries or even having offensive weapons. Progress is being made, though: in 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got proposals approved by the parliament allowing the military to defend other nations.

Japan is very intent on becoming a military superpower and according to Kono, Japan should not, cannot and will not be a ‘follower’ in the world.” This sudden urge to be a part of world affairs would be beneficial to all nations of the world. Shigeru Ishiba, Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic party, said, “The US can no longer afford to play the world’s policeman […] It’s become extremely important we do our own share alongside the US.In addition to the U.S., nations such as Australia and Taiwan also favor Japan’s expanding military. If Japan plans on becoming a world power, they will be able to watch over Asian waters to keep nations in check and maintain the power balance of the region. This power will enable Japan to add to the pressure to the denuclearization of North Korea.

Now that Japan and the rest of the world have begun to move past the horrors of WWII, Japan can protect not only themselves but also aid in the security of the rest of the world. Japan’s increasing non-nuclear military would mean a large power shift in East Asia, possibly denuclearizing the region and would strengthen a key US ally.