“Never Underestimate”: USA Today Speaks to Robert B. Murrett About Japan’s Military Posture

When it comes to North Korea, what is Japan’s military role?

(USA Today | Nov. 6, 2017) President Trump pressed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday to purchase more military hardware from the United States and take a more active role in its defense against North Korea.

“I would never underestimate the Japanese military.”

Trump had privately questioned why Japan didn’t shoot down the North Korean missiles launched over the northern island of Hokkaido in August and September, according to a report Saturday by Japan’s Kyodo News Agency. The report, citing diplomatic sources, said Trump wondered why a nation of “samurai warriors” wouldn’t take action.

At a news conference in Tokyo with Abe, Trump addressed the question, saying: “(Abe) will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States. … And we make the best military equipment by far” …

… For more than 60 years Japan has operated the Self-Defense Forces, with some 250,000 air, naval and ground troops that experts say are among the best-trained and most well-equipped in the world.

“I would never underestimate the Japanese military,” said retired vice admiral Robert Murrett, deputy director of the Institute of National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University. “In terms of just sheer military proficiency — unit for unit, person for person, they’re the best military in Asia.”

Murrett said that North Korea is continuing to push Japan to toward a more assertive posture.

“From a policy approach, they’re getting more energetic and less deferential to their neighbors or to the umbrella provided by the United States,” he said …

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