I recall 40 years ago, when I was a new professor working in the field of Chinese and Japanese international relations, that Edwin O Reischauer once commented, "The great payoff from our victory of 1945 was a permanently disarmed Japan." Born in Japan and a Japanese historian at Harvard, Reischauer served as US ambassador to Tokyo in the administrations of presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Strange to say, since the end of the Cold War in 1991 and particularly under the administration of George W Bush, the United States has been doing everything in its power to encourage and even accelerate Japanese rearmament.
Such a development promotes hostility between China and Japan, the two superpowers of East Asia, sabotages possible peaceful solutions in those two problem areas, Taiwan and North Korea, left over from the Chinese and Korean civil wars, and lays the foundation for a possible future Sino-American conflict that the United States would almost surely lose. It is unclear whether the ideologues and war lovers of Washington understand what they are unleashing - a possible confrontation between the world's fastest-growing industrial economy, China, and the world's second-most-productive, albeit declining, economy, Japan; a confrontation that the United States would have caused and in which it might well be consumed.