The reverberations of nuclear tests in North Korea would reach far and wide. And the immediate change is likely to come in the Japanese armed forces. The American dictated constitution, post World War-II, thoroughly emasculated the Japanese forces and proscribed them from crossing the domestic territory. They were to be known as the 'Japanese Self Defense Forces' (JSDF) and under Article 9 of the constitution, they were denied the opportunity to create war potential for the island country. As such, terms like 'Army', Air Force and Navy were never to be used which came as a respite for the neighbouring countries like China and Korea who had once suffered under the iron hands of Japanese army.
Despite having the controlled nature of JSDF, the spending profile on defense has been on the rise. Annual expenditure of about $46 billion in 2004 makes it the sixth largest military budget internationally. Even before the tests, tension with countries like China and especially North Korea were likely to change the pacifist nature of the Japanese Army.
National Defense Program Outline of 2005 represented a tectonic change in the Japanese defense strategy. The change was catalysed first hand due to the Taepodong-1 launch by the North Koreans and the rising Chinese ambitions. Another area of concern was the terrorist threat post 9/11. Considering 'new security environment', missile defense was taken up as the part of the government policy in 2003.
Liberal Democratic Party's Defense Subcommittee in March 2004 contained the most far-sighted Defense Outline. Containing new concepts, it suggested controversial recommendations for transforming Japanese defense. While discussing the security environment of North East Asia, the report highlights North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear development, the China-Taiwan issue, and China's naval ambitions in the neighboring East China Sea.
In this backdrop, it must be noted that the new configurations would inevitably change the security complexion of the Eastern Asia. That complexion might can have several variations including developing a character independent and distinct from the Americans. The combative role of Japan's military will have tectonic repercussions for sure.