TOKYO- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's resort to the use of enhanced military power to try to counterbalance a rising China underlines his failure to put more emphasis on diplomacy to engage Beijing.
His Cabinet approved a defence package on Tuesday that comprises the nation's first-ever national security strategy that covers the next 10 years, and guidelines for purchasing military hardware to implement that strategy.
Though the security strategy is supposed to be based on a mix of diplomacy and defence policy, Mr Abe's focus is on increasing his country's arms spending, a level that had remained largely unchanged for a decade.
The redeployment of troops to Japan's south-western flank and the beefing up of military hardware to protect outlying islands in the area are clearly directed at China, with whom Japan is locked in a simmering territorial dispute.
In recent months, Beijing has increased maritime activities near Japan, at times even breaching territorial waters and airspace around the disputed Senkaku islands, which the Chinese call Diaoyu and also claim.
Tokyo is also peeved by Beijing's desire for access to the Western Pacific for its naval vessels via Japan's south-west.
But Japan's huge shopping list that includes fighter jets, drones and amphibious vehicles to upgrade its military capability hardly jives with the mantra in the national security strategy that says Japan remains a peace-loving nation and that the new build-up plan is all in accordance with Mr Abe's policy of proactive pacifism.
"To him, pacifism means freeing Japan from its so-called Peace Constitution and increasing the country's military role," said the leading Asahi Shimbun in a hard-hitting editorial.