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2013年2月 3日 (日)

防衛予算増額 領土を守る体制拡充の一歩に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 3, 2013)
Defense spending increases should serve national security
防衛予算増額 領土を守る体制拡充の一歩に(2月2日付・読売社説)

The abnormal situation in which Japan alone kept slashing its defense spending while neighboring countries were substantially increasing theirs has been brought to an end. This is a significant development.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to boost defense-related spending, excluding financial support for municipalities that host U.S. military bases, to 4.68 trillion yen in a draft budget for fiscal 2013, up 35.1 billion yen, or 0.8 percent, from the previous fiscal year. This is the first defense spending increase in 11 years.

Compared with China, which has seen double-digit rises in its defense spending every year, Japan's increase is insufficient. However, we highly regard the government's emphasis on protecting Japan's territories.

In tandem with a review of the current National Defense Program Guidelines, which is expected to be carried out this year, it is vital to send a message to the international community in the medium and long term that Japan takes its security seriously.


SDF eyes capacity buildup

We think it reasonable that the fiscal 2013 budget reflects the government's focus on the Senkaku Islands and other southwestern Japanese territories, placing importance on a capability buildup for surveillance and defense of remote islets.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force plans to introduce the new P-1 patrol aircraft and aims to extend the useful life of a total of 16 escort vessels and submarines by five to 10 years through repair. The Air Self-Defense Force also plans to reinforce the ability of its equipment, such as the Airborne Warning and Control System, the early-warning E2C aircraft, and the radar system on Miyakojima island in Okinawa Prefecture.

The Ground Self-Defense Force intends to deploy a coastal monitoring unit on Yonaguni Island and expand the scale of joint exercises with U.S. marines.

These buildup plans are in line with a national "dynamic defense" vision that places priority on increased mobility and troop operations. The plans are likely to boost deterrence toward the nation's neighboring countries.

The government also has included in the draft budget research costs on the Global Hawk high-altitude reconnaissance drone and the upgraded Osprey transport aircraft. The Global Hawk is fit for lengthy surveillance activities while the Osprey would be instrumental in protecting remote islands. The government should consider introducing them more aggressively.


Questions raised over priority

Meanwhile, we question why the government has decided to divide the 287 newly recruited SDF members almost equally among its branches--94 for the GSDF, 96 for the MSDF and 97 for the ASDF. This is a typical example of horizontal egalitarianism.

Given that China's provocations around the Senkaku Islands could continue for a long time, Japan's top priority is clearly to strengthen surveillance by the MSDF and ASDF. The government would be able to deploy more GSDF personnel to southwestern Japanese territories simply by shifting them from Hokkaido and other regions, instead of increasing their number.

After the Cold War ended, the nation's National Defense Program Guidelines were revised three times, but the respective percentages of the budget allocated to the GSDF, MSDF and ASDF remain almost unchanged. Such allocations should be reviewed in response to changes in national threats, but bureaucratic tribalism and organizational defense structures are said to hamper such a review.

Amid fiscal difficulties, the government would find it difficult to significantly boost the defense budget. It therefore needs to reduce the number of GSDF members and streamline procurement of defense equipment further when crafting new national defense guidelines and budgets for fiscal 2014 and after.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 2, 2013)
(2013年2月2日01時24分  読売新聞)


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