That’s the question that the release of the Chinese ship captain begs.

In any future conflict, can Japan’s allies really trust Japan not to cut and run if the adversary has the capacity to hurt Japan? By, for example, depriving it of rare earth minerals and calling tourists home? Threatening to cut economic ties? Making noises about lobbing a nuke at Osaka?

I mean, really, let’s think about this. Japan essentially caved in on two of its key principles: that the rule of law would determine the outcome of the situation, and that Japanese law was applicable in the Senkakus. Those two principles are now totally blown.

Suddenly, I’m not so sure I want Japanese destroyers sailing with American ships, providing protection for naval task forces. I’m not sure I want Japanese fighters protecting American AWACS planes. I’m not sure I want Japanese forces assuming any responsibility for defending anyone but themselves.

Can anyone seriously have faith in Japan not cut and run in a military confrontation?

Japan is not ready for collective defense, and Japan has a long way to go to rebuild any credibility it once had. Until it does, a country would be foolish to let Japan assume even a minor role in its defense.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch