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2014年8月 9日 (土)

防衛白書 中朝の軍事挑発に警戒強めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Bolster sense of vigilance against provocations from China, N. Korea
防衛白書 中朝の軍事挑発に警戒強めよ

While maintaining unfailing vigilance against China and North Korea, which have been continuing their military provocations, Japan must proceed steadily with the tasks of enhancing the Self-Defense Forces’ capabilities and taking relevant legislative action.

“Defense of Japan 2014,” the nation’s defense white paper for this year, has noted that destabilizing factors in Asia, including areas surrounding Japan, “are becoming more serious,” expressing “strong concern” especially on such matters as the Chinese military’s provocative acts.

Regarding Beijing’s unilateral declaration last autumn of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, the white paper released on Tuesday criticized the ADIZ imposition as a “profoundly dangerous act that may cause unintended consequences.”

The white paper has clearly stated what stands to reason. Such incidents as Chinese fighters approaching abnormally close to SDF aircraft have subsequently been taking place one after another.

In fiscal 2013, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled its fighter jets 810 times against military planes and other aircraft feared to be infringing on Japanese territorial airspace, according to the white paper. It is the first time in 24 years that the number has topped 800. More than half of the incidents were in response to Chinese planes, the document said.

There is no doubt that China’s provocations have heightened tensions between Tokyo and Beijing. To avoid an accidental clash, such arrangements as setting up a hotline between Japan and China must be made promptly. It is also very important for Japan to tenaciously prod China in cooperation with other countries, including the United States, to exercise self-restraint to prevent dangerous behavior.

The white paper cited such facts as a Chinese naval fleet making a passage through not only the Nansei Islands, between Kyushu island and Taiwan, but also Hokkaido’s Soya Strait for the first time in July last year. According to the paper’s related analysis, China has continued to ramp up its oceanic deployment capabilities. It is imperative for the Defense Ministry to continue to carry out detailed surveillance of the activities of Chinese naval forces.

Ensure ‘seamless’ defense

In March this year, North Korea fired multiple missiles in the early morning and at night using transporter-erector launchers (TELs), or mobile launchers. The white paper observes that Pyongyang “has deepened confidence about the performance and reliability” of its missiles.

The North’s medium-range Rodong missiles are capable of striking almost anywhere in Japan. If Pyongyang’s actual warfare missile-launching capabilities are boosted and its program to miniaturize nuclear weapons is realized, the threat from North Korea will increase further.

In response, Japan must strengthen missile interception arrangements through such means as the Aegis-equipped destroyers of the Maritime Self-Defense Force. Defense cooperation with U.S. forces should also be made even closer to build up deterrence against North Korea.

As for the Cabinet approval in July to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense on a limited scale, the white paper has evaluated the decision as having “historic significance” in further ensuring national peace and security.

It also emphasized the importance of enhancing legislative arrangements to make the nation capable of making a seamless response to the outbreak of various types of emergencies.

Bolstering preparedness to cope swiftly with what are known as “gray zone” incidents, or events that cannot be immediately defined as military attacks—such as seizure of remote islands by foreign intruders disguised as fishermen—is matter of urgency. Measures to address such situations should be reflected in the revision of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation scheduled toward the year-end.

Furthermore, it is also important to forge ahead with the international development of weapons based on the government’s three principles on the transfer of defense equipment and technology, with the aim of boosting the nation’s defense-related production and technological bases to ensure the enhancement of its comprehensive defense capabilities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 8, 2014)


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