In the news: the Japanese government has decided to increase its military capacities beyond simple self-defense in order to become able to fight foreign wars. Of course, their neighboring countries responded fearfully to that. The United States government supports Japan’s expanded military.
I have an observation and a question, however. Japan’s economy and society have thrived over the past sixty years. They have built a world-class economy and a prosperous, low-crime home nation from an atom-bombed shell. During that time, Japan put little money and resources into the military because the treaty that ended World War II limited their military. I believe this shows that a capacity for military aggression is not necessary to improve national life.
Here in the United States, our fighting forces are already the biggest in the world, several times the size of the next-larger military. Some Americans advocate for even more. Corporations holding military contracts lead, coach, and finance them. Their angry, fear-inducing voices present this force as a necessity, claiming “they” (currently “terrorists”; could be anyone) will do horrible things to Americans without such an overwhelming force, even though no other developed nation, not even Japan, suffers these calamities. More to my point, many also claim such a military is good for business. However, our economy has stagnated and suffered in this century, even while we put enormous resources into this military-industrial complex. The middle class is falling into poverty, the unemployment rate falls mostly because people give up looking for work or find low-wage and/or part-time jobs, and firebrands such as Donald Trump attract followers for exactly the same reason people followed Hitler and Mussolini: the followers know they are abused and these rabble-rousers offer someone to blame.
I hope some credible school of economics will study the difference in Japan’s economic condition produced by supporting a larger military versus their current small defensive force. My hypothesis is that unnecessary military capacity goes to waste as far as national well-being. Our tax money buys no national investment beyond salaries to people who produce neither goods nor services, but only prepare to harm others or to defend against bogey men. The monies spent for military goods (remember those contractors?) could be used for better purposes, as Japan has done in the past for roads, transit, and research, among other things. The United States infrastructure desperately needs such investments. Domestic investments are also easier to monitor and regulate than military expenditures.
I think it will be interesting to see just how much the larger military drags down the Japanese nation.