Copyright GLOBIS

The global security environment has changed and it is no longer possible for any nation to maintain peace on its own. There are factors for instability in the environment surrounding Japan, such as North Korea, which could spin out of control at any time, and China, which is vigilantly watching for an opportunity to expand its maritime interests. To protect Japan, it is necessary to establish security in the surrounding region and, furthermore, globally, and to also establish preparedness for immediate response to emergencies.

1. Strengthen Intelligence Functions!

In December 2013, the National Security Council (NSC) was established in Japan. What is important toward the future is to gather experts to strengthen intelligence functions in order to operate the intelligence cycle effectively, mainly by the NSC. It is necessary to enhance the capability to collect intelligence, including surveillance of space and cyberspace, and also to enhance human intelligence, or HUMINT (so-called espionage). In addition, it is also necessary to enhance all-source analysis, which is centralized analysis of intelligence throughout the entire government, through overcoming disadvantages associated with the vertically segmented administrative system of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Police Agency, the Cabinet Secretariat and other ministries and agencies.

2. Increase Partners for Defense Cooperation to Enhance Global Preparedness!

In order for Japan to be an equal partner with the United States, it is necessary for Japan to increase its partnerships with other countries, rather than merely depending on the United States. This will also help enhance Japan’s negotiating power when dealing with the United States. To do so, it is important to enhance defense cooperation and joint military exercises with countries that are friendly to the United States (allies) and share the same values and national interests, such as Australia and South Korea; and to develop defense exchange with Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and other Asian nations. The Ministry of Defense has recently been active in developing defense cooperation with these countries. It is hoped that this kind of effort will be continued.

3. Japan should Take Leadership in Multinational Defense Cooperation!

Maritime safety in the sea lanes from the Middle East to Japan—the passage used by Japanese oil tankers—and stability in East Asia have largely been supported by the United States. However, as the relative power of the United States is declining, in order for Japan to maintain these international public goods, it is necessary for Japan to take the initiative in multinational defense cooperation settings. In Asia, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a regional security framework, has started evolving into the stage of specific cooperative efforts, such as the implementation of disaster relief exercises. Japan should actively participate in these cooperative efforts and take leadership in multinational defense cooperation.

4. Develop the Japan-U.S. Alliance and Make Active Use of the Resources of U.S. Forces for Overseas SDF Activities!

The Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation were revised in April 2015, for the first time in 18 years. The revised guidelines stipulate that, in response to the change in the security environment, such as China’s maritime advances, Japan and the United States shall continue to cooperate with each other on a global basis, that is, beyond the Asia-Pacific region, both in ordinary times and in times of emergency. In defense cooperation between Japan and the United States in the past, the U.S. forces have used bases in Japan. But the flipside of this is also important, that is, in expanding the SDF’s global activities in the future, such as international peace cooperation activities and the maintenance of safety in sea lanes, the SDF will use the U.S. military’s overseas bases for joint exercises and as part of operation sites. For example, on the occasion of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps to Guam, the SDF will use U.S. military facilities in Guam, Saipan and other places to improve its mobility and conduct exercises for the defense of remote islands.

It is fundamentally abnormal that another country’s military is stationed in Japan. The Defense section of 100 Actions proposes to enhance the SDF’s capabilities. After sufficiently improving these capabilities, it will be necessary to make the alliance more equal and, to avoid depending on the United States for its national security, Japan should promote preparations with an eye on exit strategies toward the future. We should make efforts to become a country that 50 years from now can protect itself on its own as a “normally functioning nation.”

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