Japan's New Deal Opportunity (Page 2 of 2)

Rendering nuclear fuel safer around the globe will require significant government investment to develop leading-edge reactors that don’t create massive amount of spent fuel. Japan’s study can also point the direction for the international community to come together and regulate civil nuclear programmes globally so that they pose a diminished risk of arming rogue actors with nuclear weapons.
While any nuclear renaissance has been put on hold as a result of the Fukushima meltdown, a military renaissance appears ready to emerge.  With 100,000 troops mobilized for disaster relief, Japan’s Self-Defence Forces have crossed a post-war hurdle by proving to the Japanese people their indisputable relevance.  The SDF have also shown that they can work with other nations in the face of a crisis.
The SDF have also shown their ability to work seamlessly with the US armed forces, but they can go further towards full integration and not simply moving in parallel with asymmetric forces.  US military and civilian leaders should be ready to seize the opportunity implied by this combined crisis response: to move towards genuine, NATO-style military interoperability for a range of missions, perhaps starting with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.  Meanwhile, US forces have amply illustrated the life-saving role played by the United States’ military presence, thereby putting to rest much of the pre-disaster concerns about the value of US forces in Japan.
The third opportunity and challenge to the triple disasters is coming to grips with Japan’s health security.  For an aging society like Japan, health security is national security.  Japan now has the opportunity and the need to advance health care and medicine to new heights, both for internal rejuvenation (literally) and for soft-power influence as a model for other aging societies and as an engine of economic growth in the 21st century.  Government, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations can collaborate together to make this initiative an enduring and transformative one.
A health security investment can respond to issues related to disasters, including concerns over radiation, but it should expand into a comprehensive investment that fully taps the scientific and technical expertise of Japan.  And as with the nuclear lessons learned and responsibility to safeguard civil nuclear programs globally, Japan should share the fruits of its advances internationally.
In these still solemn days after the earthquake and tsunami, and even before the nuclear dangers are fully contained, it isn’t too early for Japan to envisage the kind of leadership it will need to revive the nation.  A New Deal built on energy, security, and health care can help to give priority and focus to the cacophony of well-intentioned proposals emanating from many circles.  A New Deal awaits a leader.
Dr. Patrick M. Cronin is Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

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