2023 Defense of Japan Report

September 15, 2023 1:42 PM

The following is the Japanese Ministry of Defense 2023 White Paper Defense of Japan.

From the report

On the Publication of Defense of Japan 2023

The world is at a turning point in history. The international community is facing its greatest trial since World War II (WWII), and we have entered a new era of crisis.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an unprecedented situation. A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has shown disregard for international law by launching an aggression against a sovereign country and repeating rhetoric and actions that can be interpreted as threats of nuclear weapons use. Additionally, China is rapidly enhancing its military capability qualitatively and quantitatively, including nuclear and missile forces, while continuing and amplifying its unilateral changes to the status quo by force and such attempts in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Furthermore, North Korea is rapidly advancing its nuclear and missile development, repeatedly launching missiles.

Under these circumstances, it goes without saying that diplomatic efforts are the foremost priority of Japan, which has experienced WWII and has since been pursuing the path of a peace-loving nation. Japan remains unwavering in its commitment to respecting the rule of law and settling any disputes not through the use of forcible measures but peacefully and diplomatically. At the same time, in order to protect the lives and livelihood of Japanese nationals, it is essential to make efforts to “defend our country by ourselves” and increase deterrence. In other words, we need to make the opponent think that “attacking Japan will not achieve its goals.”

Japan’s intentions and tangible measures for achieving them are articulated in our new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Defense Buildup Program that were adopted by the Cabinet last December. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) will follow through on them, including reinforcement of our defense production and technology bases.
In doing so, we will focus on two priorities: first, to maximize effective use of our current equipment by improving operational rates, securing sufficient munitions, and accelerating investments in improving the resiliency of major defense facilities; and second, to strengthen the core areas of our future defense capabilities, including stand-off defense capabilities that can be utilized as counterstrike capabilities and unmanned assets.

However, no matter how much advanced equipment the MOD/Self-Defense Forces (SDF) procure, our defense capability cannot be demonstrated without personnel to operate them. The core element of defense capability is SDF personnel. We will speed up our efforts to improve their lives, work environments and treatment.

In recent years, diplomatic efforts have also gained importance for defense. Since my appointment as Minister of Defense, I have held discussions on numerous occasions with defense ministers, including Secretary of Defense Austin of the United States, Japan’s only ally, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Marles of Australia, working to deepen our cooperation and collaboration. Building upon these discussions, we will continue to pursue various cooperation, including the joint development of the next-generation fighter aircraft by Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy.

Even if my counterparts and I were to have different views, it is important to make persistent efforts to maintain and increase our communication through dialogue, aiming to build trust and avoid unforeseen circumstances. As such, I will continue to make these endeavors. From this perspective, Defense of Japan 2023 outlines the security environment surrounding Japan and the activities and efforts of the MOD/SDF. The beginning focuses on the changes before 2013 (when the previous National Security Strategy was formulated) and the changes through 2022 (when the current National Security Strategy was formulated), which includes a special feature titled, “An Era of Upheavals: 10 Years of Change.” Additionally, the National Defense Strategy is explained concisely and clearly with photos and diagrams to deepen readers’ understanding.

It is important above all that initiatives for defense of Japan have the understanding and cooperation of the people and are highly transparent to the international community. In this regard, this white paper has played a critical role. We sincerely hope that Defense of Japan 2023 will be read by as many people as possible and help increase their understanding of the activities and efforts of the MOD/SDF.

HAMADA Yasukazu
Minister of Defense

Download the document here.

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