An interesting military exercise took place near the island of Guam recently.
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — To take part in its annual exercises with the United States Air Force here last month, Japan practiced dropping 500-pound live bombs on Farallon de Medinilla, a tiny island in the western Pacific’s turquoise waters more than 150 miles north of here.WW II isn't that distant a memory for Asia. Japan's conduct towards other Asians during the war left deep scars that will take a great deal of time to erase. (Some of my in-laws don't easily forget the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. My father-in-law telling me, it was all right for his daughter to marry an American but if I was Japanese they would have to kill me. He was joking, I think.) If ever. That parts of Asia are wary of a more militaristic Japan is to be expected.
The exercise would have been unremarkable for almost any other military, but it was highly significant for Japan, a country still restrained by a Constitution that renounces war and allows forces only for its defense. Dropping live bombs on land had long been considered too offensive, so much so that Japan does not have a single live-bombing range.
Flying directly from Japan and practicing live-bombing runs on distant foreign soil would have been regarded as unacceptably provocative because the implicit message was clear: these fighter jets could perhaps fly to North Korea and take out some targets before returning home safely.
But from here in Micronesia to Iraq, Japan’s military has been rapidly crossing out items from its list of can’t-dos. The incremental changes, especially since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, amount to the most significant transformation in Japan’s military since World War II, one that has brought it ever closer operationally to America’s military while rattling nerves throughout northeast Asia.
Some feel this exercise could be provocative in the eyes of the regime in Pyongyang. GI at ROK Drop writes-
It seems like from a Japanese perspective that when a hostile nation has kidnapped your citizens, fired a tactical ballistic missile over your country, and has since developed nuclear weapons, it might be prudent to train your Air Force to be able to defend the country.I wouldn't worry too much about what North Korea thinks the Guam exercise is provocative or not. How did Japan feel when Kim Jong-Il fired his rockets last year after all? The Japanese may need to use those bombers one day against North Korea one day.
Linked to- Cao, Leaning Straight Up, Morewhat,