Bomb by Bomb, Japan Sheds Military Restraints

– Oil is going to get tight as the Peak Oil issue slowly creeps up on us. The US’s involvement in Iraq is thought by many to really be about cornering and controlling significant oil in the region to ensure the US’s continuing ability to supply its economy with this essential material. China, India, and Europe are also all looking for how they can establish control over the oil they will need to continue growing.

– Japan is a particularly interesting case. 95% of their oil is imported and without a guaranteed supply, they could easily revert to a medieval fishing and farming culture. No one imagines that they will let this come about without a struggle.

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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.

The pilots described dropping a live bomb for the first time — shouting “shack!” to signal a direct hit — and seeing the fireball from aloft.

“The level of tension was just different,” said Capt. Tetsuya Nagata, 35, stepping down from his cockpit onto the sunbaked tarmac.

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.

In a little over half a decade, Japan’s military has carried out changes considered unthinkable a few years back. In the Indian Ocean, Japanese destroyers and refueling ships are helping American and other militaries fight in Afghanistan. In Iraq, Japanese planes are transporting cargo and American troops to Baghdad from Kuwait.

Japan is acquiring weapons that blur the lines between defensive and offensive. For the Guam bombing run, Japan deployed its newest fighter jets, the F-2’s, the first developed jointly by Japan and the United States, on their maiden trip here. Unlike its older jets, the F-2’s were able to fly the 1,700 miles from northern Japan to Guam without refueling — a “straight shot,” as the Japanese said with unconcealed pride.

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– This article is from the NY Times and they insist that folks have an ID and a PW in order to read their stuff. You can get these for free just by signing up. However, recently, a friend of mine suggested the website bugmenot.com :arrow: as an alternative to having to do these annoying sign ups. Check it out. Thx Bruce S. for the tip.

One Response to “Bomb by Bomb, Japan Sheds Military Restraints”

  1. Bruce says:

    >Japan is a particularly interesting case. 95% of their oil is imported and without a guaranteed supply, they could easily revert to a medieval fishing and farming culture. No one imagines that they will let this come about without a struggle.
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    aka pearl harbor!

    Germany too is in a similar situation– their industrial base depends on Russian natural gas.
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    Great reading about your travels in Kansas– sounds like things are good for you!