Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presented its national security strategy proposals Wednesday to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, calling to increase in Japan’s defense budget to 2 percent or more of GDP along with the development of “counterattack” capabilities able to strike at not only at missile launch sites but also the command and control capabilities of the opposing nation which would serve as both a pre-emptive measure and deterrence capability for Japan.
The proposals are not unexpected given that Kishida’s government has pledged to strengthen Japan’s defense. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told Kyodo News this month his ministry would ask for a larger budget and was discussing the potential of acquiring capabilities to pre-emptively strike at enemy bases.
Kishida’s government plans to put forward a new national security strategy by the end of this year, replacing the one formulated in 2013. The Japanese government will also release a new national security strategy, a new national defense strategy and a new defense capability plan, all covering a period of 10 years.
The development of counterattack capabilities is controversial, given the self-defense stance that Japan has had since its pacifist constitution was created and the LDP’s coalition partner, Komeito, has shown reluctance for increasing the defense budget and acquiring counterattack capabilities.
The LDP’s proposal identifies the threat posed to Japan by Russia, China and North Korea, noting the three countries built-up of their military capabilities along with increased military activities in East Asia.
It also noted that North Korea’s continuing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons developments, the willingness of Russia to use force in Ukraine and China not ruling out the use of force on Taiwan as reasons for Japan to improve its defense. The China Coast Guard continuing to violate Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands and Chinese and Russian aircraft and ships conducting joint flights and sails around Japan were additional concerns.
Japan’s Defense Ministry issued a release this week that a Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Shupang-class survey vessel entered Japanese waters west of Kuchinoerabu Island, at 11 p.m. Tuesday before sailing out of Japan’s territorial waters south of Yakushima Island at 2:10 am on Wednesday. Kuchinoerabu Island lies 130 kilometers (70 nautical miles) south of Kagoshima, Kyushu.
The Defense Ministry release stated that the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Onami (DD-111) and a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat had monitored the PLAN ship. Japan has lodged a protest with China via diplomatic channels on the incident.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) issued a release stating that a PLAN frigate and amphibious ship had been spotted that day traveling northwest in the area about 100 km east-northeast of Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture. The ships subsequently proceeded northwest in the sea area between Okinawa and Miyako Island to the East China Sea. Photos and pennant numbers in the release identified the ships as the frigate CNS Zhoushan (529) and landing platform dock CNS Yimeng Shan (988).
The PLAN ships were monitored by the JMSDF replenishment ship JS Hanama (AOE-424) and JMSDF P-3C maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 operating from Naha Air Base, Okinawa.
On Tuesday, during a press conference, Kishi stated that his ministry would soon call for bids to survey a suitable site for a mobile radar station on Kita Daito Island, adding that Japan would likely move towards permanent radar stations around the Daito islands as these areas form a surveillance gap in regard to military activities and transits to and from the Pacific Ocean. A Chinese carrier task group conducted an exercise around Kita Daito Island last year, USNI News previously reported.
The LDP proposal also called for the loosening of Japan’s export and transfer restrictions, allowing not only the Japanese defense industry base to sustain itself but to strengthen the defense capabilities of partner nations in the region.
It also called for Japan to further raise awareness and support for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept and in collaboration with the E.U., European countries, NATO, AUKUS and others, to further strengthen partnerships in the region along with further enhancing current efforts such as the Quad. At the same time emphasis was also placed on the U.S-Japan alliance, stating that the two countries would strengthen their military and security cooperation and interoperability.
Kishi announced on Thursday that he will travel to the United States from May 3-6 and hold a meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin on May 4. Items on the agenda include Ukraine, China, and North Korea, the Japan-US “2 + 2” discussion held in January this year and the formulation of a new national security strategy being implemented in Japan along with concrete efforts to strengthen the deterrence and resilience capability of the Japan-US alliance. Kishi also stated his delegation will visit the Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Cyber Command to exchange views on ballistic missile defense and cyber cooperation.