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2012年8月 2日 (木)

防衛白書 中国軍の活動に警戒を怠るな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 2, 2012)
Defense paper rightly highlights need for caution over China
防衛白書 中国軍の活動に警戒を怠るな(8月1日付・読売社説)

In response to the Chinese military's rapid modernization and increased activities, it is imperative that the Self-Defense Forces steadily strengthen their surveillance and patrol activities.

The government's 2012 white paper on defense stated, as last year's report did, that China's military movements are "a matter of concern" for the Asia region and the international community, and "should require prudent analysis." It is natural for the government to point this out.

China's defense spending has jumped to more than double the level it was five years ago and 30 times that of 24 years ago. Its official defense budget is now more than 1.6 times that of Japan's. The gap will almost certainly continue to widen. Some observers have suggested China could match the United States as a military power by about 2050.

Besides China's sea trials of an aircraft carrier and development of next-generation fighter jets possessing stealth capabilities, Japan must not underestimate the implications of China's advance into the Pacific Ocean, where its naval vessels are operating increasingly frequently, and test-flights of reconnaissance drones.


Beef up SDF capabilities

Given such factors as senior Chinese military officials making remarks on security issues more often than before, the white paper said relations between the Chinese Communist Party leadership and the People's Liberation Army have "been getting complex." The paper said it is a "risk management issue," and expressed caution over the growing influence of China's military.

The lack of transparency in China's military capabilities and decision-making process has long been a source of unease. It is crucial that close attention is paid to this issue.

The Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces in recent years have been placing greater emphasis on the defense of the Nansei Islands. But due to growing activities by Chinese forces, the SDF are being stretched when dispatching patrol aircraft and other vessels as needed.

We believe it is urgent for the nation to strengthen the "dynamic defense cooperation" with the U.S. military, which is renewing its focus on the Asia region. Improving the deployment formation and equipment of the SDF's maritime and air wings is also a pressing matter. The government should end its paring of defense spending, which has continued for 10 consecutive years.

On the other hand, it is important to step up confidence-building efforts between Japan and China through such measures as reactivating bilateral defense exchanges, which have stalled in the past few years, and establishing an emergency contact system between forces of both nations to deal with a maritime accident.


N. Korea text needs update

With regard to North Korea, the white paper said following the failed test of a ballistic missile in April, Pyongyang "is likely to attempt similar launches" in the future.

Japan must enhance its deterrent capability by expanding the scope of military information sharing with the United States and South Korea and conducting joint exercises with them. The government should quickly conclude a general security of military information agreement with Seoul, the signing of which has been delayed due to domestic issues in South Korea.

We find it baffling that since 1994 the white paper has not changed the language it uses to assess North Korea's military movements, saying only that it "constitutes a serious destabilizing factor for security in the entire East Asia region."

Over this period, Pyongyang has conducted two nuclear tests and test-fired long-distance ballistic missiles and carried out other military provocations that have significantly endangered Japan's security environment. We think the white paper should use expressions that more accurately reflect the changes in North Korea's posture.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 1, 2012)
(2012年8月1日01時13分  読売新聞)


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