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2013年7月29日 (月)

新防衛大綱 自衛隊の機動力強化が急務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 29, 2013
Increased mobility of SDF power must be realized as a top priority
新防衛大綱 自衛隊の機動力強化が急務だ(7月28日付・読売社説)

To ensure Japan’s peace and security, the government must present measures and visions to deal with a variety of challenges, including strengthening the defense of remote islands, enhancing missile defense, dealing with cyber-attacks and working out precautionary and response measures for large-scale disasters.

The Defense Ministry has released an interim report on the new National Defense Program Guidelines to be compiled in late December. On the issue of defending remote islands, the report pointed out that it is essential to maintain air and maritime supremacy and improve the mobility of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s power and amphibious functions along the lines of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Cuts unacceptable

Since the end of the Cold War, the center of gravity in national defense has been shifting “from quantity to quality,” and defense spending has been cut, forcing the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Air Self-Defense Force to reduce the number of destroyers, surveillance aircraft and fighter jets. But such cuts are no longer tolerable.

Chinese military ships recently sailed around the Japanese archipelago, and Chinese military planes were confirmed for the first time to have flown beyond the First Island Chain, the defense line set by the Chinese military that includes Okinawa Island and Miyakojima island. In light of the Chinese military’s recent armaments buildup and intensified activities, the decline in the number of MSDF’s destroyers and ASDF’s fighter jets must be reversed.

To enhance patrol and surveillance capabilities, it is vital to introduce Global Hawk reconnaissance drones ahead of schedule.

The GSDF, for its part, must enhance deterrence by expanding its special units for defense of remote islands and ramping up joint exercises with the U.S. marines.

The interim report did not refer to the Liberal Democratic Party’s earlier proposal to look into the possibility of possessing capabilities to attack enemy bases. The report only said “comprehensive capabilities will be enhanced” to respond to missile attacks.

The reason for this cautious language is that there are arguments within both the Japanese and U.S. governments for and against the Self-Defense Forces’ adoption of cruise missiles, among other military technology.

Some argue that Japan’s possession of such equipment would supplement the U.S. military’s striking power and enhance Japan’s deterrence capability, while others are wary of that approach and consider it advisable to allocate budget appropriations to buy other priority equipment.

The bottom line is that the SDF and U.S. military must reexamine their roles from the standpoint of buttressing the Japan-U.S. alliance. What military capabilities Japan should possess to that end must be studied.

As for measures to deal with cyber-attacks, the interim report called for fostering experts and strengthening cooperation with the United States and private companies.

Lessons from Algeria

In view of the Algerian hostage incident in January in which Japanese citizens were victims, the report proposed increasing the number of defense attaches in Japanese embassies overseas to increase human intelligence capabilities.

All these proposals are crucial and should be put into practice steadily.

One Defense Ministry reform measure mentioned in the report is worrying.

Under study is the radical idea of abolishing the Operational Policy Bureau, an internal office of the ministry, and integrating it under the SDF’s Joint Staff Office. It is irrational for an organization comprising SDF personnel to deal with Diet matters and to liaise with other government offices. This would create confusion and hurt morale.

Reform of the ministry’s organization is not a priority issue now. A prudent approach is called for in this regard.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 28, 2013)
(2013年7月28日01時09分  読売新聞)


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