While the US Corporate Media Establishment was busy witch-hunting Trump's Cabinet and doing damage-control over (further) Obama spying allegations; the Japanese Empire's ruling party held its convention in Tokyo this weekend. A troubling development that came out of this meeting was that term-limit provisions were extended and de facto repealed. This means that current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe---whose power has been extended all through his tenure---will not have to step down in 2018.
The Abe Administration has seen many such disturbing trends, highly reminiscent of pre-WW2 politics. There has been increasing press censorship since 2012, with corresponding militarism and nationalism promoted through the public school. Under Abe, the Empire has vastly expanded military spending including the development of a new Stealth-fighter. This aircraft was displayed last Autumn at an airshow ominously also displaying restored WW2-era Japanese Zeroes.
The Party Congress also pledged constitutional reform including repealing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which renounces aggressive war. Indeed, Abe has deployed Japanese Naval Forces well beyond the country's territorial waters and pursued a highly interventionist foreign policy. The Japanese Empire has never apologized formally for WW2 atrocities, nor have they officially given up territorial claims of land ceded in 1945. They have cracked down further on Okinawa and pressed demands for the strategic Kuril and Daiyou Islands. They still consider Sakhalin as part of Japan; and most of their interventions have been in former Japanese-held territories especially Korea, Taiwan, and Indochina.
There are many in the US who believe that a strong Japan is necessary to maintain a strong balance of power in the Pacific; but history proves otherwise. A militarized Japan is as great a threat to regional stability today as it was during the 1930s. Japan never underwent the type of post-war reforms that Europe did. They even retained their Emperor, who is worshipped as a god by the Japanese ruling elite. While the top political and military leaders were removed and tried for war crimes, they were replaced---not by opposition leaders as in Europe---but by their underlings. The large corporate monopolies were broken up, but quickly reorganized under new names. In other words, Japan never underwent a democratic reformation like Europe did.
A resurgent Fascist Japanese Empire is not in the interest of American policy in the Pacific. While it is true that in the 1930s, Japan blocked Russian and Chinese hegemony in the region, they also fought American interests as well---as the events of December 1941 should make abundantly clear. Their goals in the region are not---and never have been---those of a free country securing the rights of free global trade. Their goal has been to monopolize Asian trade under the aegis of their god-emperor.
A better course of action for the US to pursue is abandon the Pax Americana notions of the last four Administrations and pursue a trilateral power-sharing course in the Pacific with the other two great powers: Russia and China. A NATO-type alliance between these three powers would ensure a degree of security and free trade for the entire region.
But Japan is heavily financially invested in Wall Street, US political PACs and the Corporate Media; so opposition to such a policies would be strong. It will be an interesting foreign policy test for the Trump Administration to see where the US will go in the Pacific---as a partner or an aggressor.