By NAOKI MATSUYAMA/ Staff Writer
December 16, 2022 at 18:54 JST
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the start of a Cabinet meeting on Dec. 15 (Koichi Ueda)
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet on Dec. 16 approved three national security documents that lay out the reasoning behind Japan’s move away from an exclusively defensive posture and for doubling defense spending.
The documents, including the National Security Strategy (NSS), said Japan faced the “most serious” national security environment since the end of World War II.
“We conducted a realistic simulation of whether current capabilities held by the Self-Defense Forces were sufficient to deter threats and protect the nation,” Kishida said at a news conference later on Dec. 16. “Frankly, the current capabilities are insufficient.”
Based on those results, he said possessing the capability to strike enemy bases preparing to launch an attack against Japan would be indispensable as a deterrent to such moves.
Describing the sometimes unprecedented threats from China, North Korea and Russia, the documents said Japan’s defense spending over the next five years would have to be increased to 43 trillion yen ($313 billion).
In addition to the NSS, the two other documents approved had their titles changed.
The National Defense Program Guidelines, which laid out the objectives for defense and the measures to be employed to reach those goals, is now called the National Defense Strategy.
The Medium-Term Defense Program, which compiled expected defense spending for the next five years, is now the Defense Capability Enhancement Plan.
This is the first time the NSS has been revised since being compiled in 2013 under then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The NSS described China as “an unprecedented and largest strategic challenge” to Japan, while North Korea was a threat “that had increased in seriousness and urgency from the past.”
Russia was described as a “strong national security concern.”
The documents said there was a need for a fundamental change in the defense framework to deal with such threats.
The most important new capability was to strike an enemy base preparing to launch a ballistic missile attack on Japan.
But the documents did not divulge what standards would be used in determining if such a situation had arisen and what enemy facilities would be targeted by the strike capability.
To carry out that capability, the documents call for the development of long-range missiles that can be fired from outside the range of enemy missiles as well as the acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles manufactured by the United States.
The documents also touched upon the need for an active cyberdefense to protect the nation and important infrastructure from cyberattacks and limit any potential damage.
The documents call for giving the government the needed authority to infiltrate a potential attacker’s computer system and neutralize it.
But such authority also raises concerns about violating the secrecy of communications.
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