The public mood in Japan changes from being strongly pacifist to becoming more open to arming its army after the ongoing war in Ukraine, where Ukrainian tanks are seen here shortly before an attack in the Lugansk region in February.
Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images
The public mood in Japan is changing and people are now less opposed to Japan arming its self-defense forces after Russia invaded Ukraine, a Japanese analyst told CNBC on Monday.
Japan is only allowed to engage in military combat if it is attacked first, according to Article 9 of the country’s pacifist constitution, which was drafted after World War II.
“After the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the mood of the public is changing. And if the Japanese government under Prime Minister Kishida were to work towards a more realistic position and increase the military budget, the majority of the Japanese public is now preparing to accept that,” Masahiro Matsumura, a professor at St. Andrew’s University in Osaka, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” show.
“If it hasn’t already been done, it may take six months to a year to radically change public opinion,” said the professor of international politics, adding that public opinion on the issue will be affected by the progress of the war in Ukraine.
However, a survey published by Kyodo News in early May showed that sentiment on the Article 9 amendment remained unchanged from a year ago, despite growing regional security concerns.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and others have called for a review of the law. Despite this, 48% disagreed with the revisions, while 50% said it was necessary – similar figures to a year ago, according to the report.
In a similar poll taken last year, 51% were in favor of an amendment while 45% were against.
Reliability in the United States is a “major concern”
There are also questions about the reliability of the United States under President Joe Biden over the long term, Matsumura said.
“Trump made a big investment in defense. While he was not very good at managing alliances,” said the professor. “Biden is the exact opposite. [Under Biden]nominally, the US defense budget is growing but taking inflation into account, it is shrinking.”
Traditionally, the American stance has been to speak softly with a big stick, but now they don’t have “adequate investments” in defense, Matsumura said. “Now the United States is talking loud without the big stick. That’s the problem.”
Biden is in Japan to meet with leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a security group that includes the United States, Japan, India and Australia.
Regarding the Quad meeting hosted by Japan, Matsumura said it would be necessary to “calibrate expectations” around the summit.
“The Quad is just a security alliance with no military component. It’s not a military alliance. So we get what we get,” he said, adding that the Quad was a “control in sweetness” of Chinese belligerence.