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2013年12月19日 (木)

国家安保戦略 日本守り抜く体制を構築せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 18, 2013
Build defensive system with clear policies under ‘proactive pacifism’
国家安保戦略 日本守り抜く体制を構築せよ(12月18日付・読売社説)


Japan’s security environment situation has rapidly become precarious in recent years. It is therefore significant that the government laid down, for the first time, comprehensive and systematic guiding principles for maintaining peace and security in the East Asian region.

The government has decided on its national security strategy, a historic set of guidelines that replaces the nation’s Basic Policy for National Defense adopted in 1957.

The strategy was drawn up by the National Security Council—a Japanese version of the NSC of the United States—launched earlier this month.

It is historic that the government has put into process a motion to defend the national interest by marshaling the collective strength of the country, not only its defense capability but also its diplomatic, economic and technological capabilities.

The strategy touts “proactive pacifism” as its principle, under which Japan will actively contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia and the broader international community.

Defend national interests

North Korea has repeatedly taken provocative military actions by advancing its nuclear and missile development programs. Meanwhile, China has rapidly built up and modernized its own military capability, while attempting to change the status quo by force in areas near the Senkaku Islands by announcing a new air defense identification zone. We must also remain vigilant against international terrorism and cyber-attack threats.

It is difficult to singlehandedly maintain the security of our nation. By contributing to peace in the region and the global community, the situation in areas surrounding Japan will improve, and cooperation with other countries concerned, including the United States, will be strengthened. Such contributions will prove valuable for enhancing Japan’s security.

As long as Japan holds the position of a major player in the international community, it will have a say in drawing up various international rules, concerning, for instance, maritime activities and free trade.

To this end, the promotion of the proactive pacifism will be key.

The strategy defines the peace and further prosperity of Japan as its national interests, while citing such challenges as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the rapid rise of China. It also defines strategic defense approaches, such as the formulation of the overall defense system and the reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

It is critical that the NSC swiftly takes charge and reflects this strategy appropriately in concrete policies. Efforts must also be made to create a cycle in which the strategy can be changed in accord with fresh developments, enhancing and improving its content.

We are gratified that the strategy has referred to a policy of fostering respect for other countries and their people, in addition to love for this country and region.

Regarding new diplomatic and foreign policies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will clearly present them to the world and to its people.

It is important for Japan to give detailed explanations both at home and abroad to distinguish its diplomatic methods from the self-righteous methods of China.

Integrated defense capability

The new version of the National Defense Program Guidelines, which the Cabinet has adopted along with the national security strategy, embraces a concept termed “dynamic joint defense force.” The idea is derived from “dynamic defense power,” a concept framed in the current basic defense program, which was enforced in 2010. The new concept attaches great importance to managing the three arms of the Self-Defense Forces in a flexible and integrated manner.

The government has good reason to rework its basic defense framework to shore up our nation’s preparedness to deal with “gray-zone situations” that fall between peace and an emergency, a task that must be complemented by efforts to secure both a qualitative and quantitative improvement in the country’s defense capability.

Japan is witnessing new threats today, even though the end of the Cold War virtually eliminated the danger of foreign armed forces invading the nation. New dangers include the possibility of remote Japanese islands being occupied by other countries, as well as ballistic missile attacks and acts of terrorism. Improving Japan’s defense capacity not only qualitatively but quantitatively is essential to reinforce surveillance efforts aimed at maintaining command of its territorial waters and airspace.

It is reasonable that the new defense program guidelines call for an increase in SDF destroyers and fighter planes, after a continuous decline in numbers over the years. The government should quickly introduce Global Hawk surveillance drones while also increasing the number of SDF early-warning aircraft.

The latest defense framework emphasizes the need to better defend the territorial integrity of isolated islands. It entails the addition of Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to the lineup of Ground Self-Defense Force equipment and creation of an amphibious rapid deployment brigade.

To defend remote islands, the SDF must improve its ability to swiftly mobilize troops. It is essential for the SDF to carry out joint exercises with the U.S. forces under various scenarios, while also reexamining the appropriateness of current restrictions on the use of weapons by SDF personnel in gray-zone situations.

However, it is questionable whether the number of GSDF personnel should be increased by 5,000 from the current 154,000 as laid out in the new defense program guidelines.

With the fiscal situation in dire straits, it is impossible to expect a large increase in defense budget appropriations. The nation’s defense capabilities should be improved in a manner that will allot funds where they are truly necessary and curtail appropriations where possible.  厳しい国家財政の下、防衛予算の大幅な伸びは期待できず、防衛力整備のメリハリが不可欠だ。

The new defense policy outline is correct in reducing the number of SDF tanks and firearms. Similar cuts should have been sought in areas of lower priority.

We feel that maintaining the current level of GSDF personnel in Hokkaido may be intended to help alleviate problems arising from the prefecture’s increasing depopulation.

Right to collective self-defense

The new defense program guidelines state that the government will continue to study the advisability of possessing the capability to attack enemy ballistic missile bases and other facilities.

It is imperative for the government to hold in-depth discussions about what kind of ability this country should develop to complement the Japan-U.S. alliance, instead of unilaterally carrying out such a strike.

Another task that must be fulfilled is reconsidering the government’s current stance on the interpretation of the right to collective self-defense under the Constitution.

The government’s official view on the issue must be reversed to make it possible for the nation to exercise that right in the event of an armed attack, when it comes to carrying out what the new basic defense framework terms as “proactive contribution to peace” and shoring up the bilateral alliance.

To arrive at a conclusion on the matter after next year’s ordinary Diet session ends, the Abe administration should start coordinating its opinions in discussions with key players who are cautious about Japan exercising the right, namely New Komeito—the junior partner in the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition—and the Cabinet Legislation Bureau.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 18, 2013)
(2013年12月18日01時36分  読売新聞)


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