China warning raised in new defense policy / Pushes shifting SDF presence to Nansei isles
The government adopted new defense policy guidelines Friday that urged beefing up defenses
the Nansei Islands, which include all of Okinawa Prefecture, and labeled China's swelling military budget and naval activity in the East China Sea a "matter of concern." on
The National Defense Program Guidelines, the first issued since the Democratic Party of Japan-led government took power last year, called for a shift from the "fundamental defense concept," in which the Self-Defense Forces are deployed evenly over the country, to a "dynamic defense capability" in which the SDF is a mobile force able to respond quickly to any contingency.
The new guidelines, however, did not clearly call for a review of the three principles
weapons exports--an effective ban on arms deals with other countries--in consideration of the Social Democratic Party, which opposes any relaxation of the principles. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has recently asked the SDP, a former coalition partner, for cooperation in the Diet. on
The defense guidelines, based
a report compiled in August on national security and defense for fiscal 2011, raised concern about the security of the Nansei Islands, which includes Okinawa Prefecture and part of Kagoshima Prefecture, and are near China and Taiwan. on
The guidelines referred to China's continued increases in defense spending and naval activities near the Nansei Islands as a "matter of concern for the region and the international community."
The report says North Korea--which recently unexpectedly shelled a South Korean island and has moved ahead with building an uranium enrichment facility--remains "an urgent and serious destabilizing factor," harsher wording than used in the current defense outline.With these regional factors in mind, the new guidelines urged the government to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force troops to islets west of Okinawa Prefecture's Miyakojima island. Currently, the GSDF's southernmost presence in the Nansei Islands is a unit
The report also called for an air defense system to counter cruise missile attacks and ensure the safety of maritime cargo transport in the area.
To prepare for a possible ballistic missile attack by North Korea, the guidelines recommended deploying Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles across the nation, and updating Aegis-equipped destroyers.
To achieve "dynamic defense capability," the guidelines said the country should continue intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions
Although the guidelines, which reviewed defense policy over the 10-year period since fiscal 2001, did not say the arms export ban should be eased, it left open the possibility of lifting the ban in 10 years by saying the country must deal with a changing world where developed nations now cooperate in developing and producing military equipment.
The appendix of the report said there should be 154,000 GSDF personnel, a reduction of 1,000 from the previous outline, while tanks and artillery should be cut by 200 to about 400.
This was the first compilation of the defense policy report since 2004. The new guidelines were originally scheduled to be released in December 2009, but were delayed by the administration of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
To counter cruise missile attacks, the Air Self-Defense Force will increase the number of fighters at its Naha air base in Okinawa to 36 from 24, and the country will build facilities for E-2C early-warning patrol aircraft and set up a mobile early-warning radar system
the Nansei Islands. on
About 100 GSDF troops, whose main task will be to monitor via radar the movements of Chinese warships in the East China Sea, will be dispatched to this country's westernmost Yonagunijima island.
The midterm defense buildup program will cost about 23.49 trillion yen, down 750 billion yen from the fiscal 2005-09 program, reflecting the nation's tight financial situation.
(Dec. 18, 2010)