Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 3      February 20-26, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











Web Bulatlat


(We encourage readers to dialogue with us. Email us your letters complaints, corrections, clarifications, etc.)

Join Bulatlat's mailing list



(Email us your letters statements, press releases,  manifestos, etc.)



For turning the screws on hot issues, Bulatlat has been awarded the Golden Tornillo Award.

Iskandalo Cafe


Copyright 2004 Bulatlat


Defense policy overhauled to meet new global threats
Review cites danger posed by North Korea, China

Staff writer
The Asahi Shimbun

The government announced Friday plans to conduct a sweeping overhaul of its defense policy, adjusting Japan's armed forces to better handle new threats such as terrorism and giving them a greater global role.

China and North Korea are identified in the review as key threats to Japan's national security -- the first time specific countries have been cited in this fashion.

Regarding the main missions of the Self-Defense Forces, the government has added "improvement of the international security environment" to the traditional objective of repelling attacks on Japan's territory.

This would pave the way for more active participation in international peacekeeping activities.

Aiming to turn the SDF into a more agile force that can readily be deployed to counter unpredictable threats and undertake overseas assignments, the new National Defense Program Outline signals a departure from the highly limited security policy Japan had maintained since the end of World War II.

"From a deterrent to a responsive force, that is the future direction of our defense posture," Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono told reporters.

But he denied that Japan would strive to gain offensive capabilities, as feared by some Asian neighbors that suffered under Japan's wartime aggression.

Together with the outline, the Cabinet approved a five-year defense buildup plan for fiscal 2005 to 2009 that maps out specific measures to achieve the posture it sets forth.

The overall budget for the plan was set at 24.24 trillion yen, down 920 billion yen from the current one and the first cut ever.

Also on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda stated that Japan would lift its self-imposed ban on arms exports to allow the sale to the United States of weapons and equipment related to missile defense projects it is jointly pursing with the U.S.

The statement says that only missile-defense-related products developed with the U.S. would be exempt from the decades-old ban. It states that Japan will adhere to a "cautious policy" concerning arms exports.

It leaves room for a further easing of arms controls, nevertheless, stating that decisions on whether to allow exports of equipment deemed to "contribute to international efforts to combat terrorism and piracy" should be made on a case-by-case basis.

The first and only review of the National Defense Program Outline, first formulated in 1976, came in 1995 and was designed to reflect the security environment after the Cold War.

Marking a clear departure from the Cold War-era framework that was still visible in the 1995 outline, Friday's initiative states that the possibility of a full-scale land invasion is low and that weapons and equipment designed to counter this threat should be reduced to "the most basic level."

Instead, the new outline says Japan needs to be prepared to counter new threats and a myriad of other scenarios, namely:

* ballistic missile attacks;

* commando raids;

* invasions of Japan's remote islands;

* intrusions into Japanese waters by armed vessels;

* large-scale disasters.

The policy also promises more active SDF participation in overseas peacekeeping missions and international efforts to combat terrorism.

"We used the modest term 'international contribution,' " Ono said. "But our current understanding is that the peace of the world is the peace of Japan. We will play an active role" in the international arena.

The guidelines note that Japan's long coastline is a "geopolitical vulnerability" and state that "securing the sea lanes is crucial to prosperity and development."

Regarding the potential threats posed by other nations, the outline says, "North Korea's military moves are a grave destabilizing factor in the region."

It also states that, "at the same time, Japan must pay close attention to China's modernization of its military and the expansion of its maritime activities."

This reflects Japan's growing concern over North Korea's missile and nuclear-weapons programs, as well as the heightened activity of Chinese ships in the East China Sea.

Ties between Japan and China remain frosty, with the nations battling for marine resources in the East China Sea and clashing over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead as well as convicted war criminals.

To meet the new security challenges specified in the guidelines, Japan must have "multifunctional, flexible and effective" defense capabilities that can be deployed quickly and backed up by advanced information technology, the new policy says.

This idea effectively displaces the traditional "basic defense force" concept that was adopted by the previous two outlines as a restraint on military expansion during the Cold War.

At the center of these new capabilities is the 1 trillion yen missile defense system, which the government said it would introduce last December. It hopes to deploy a two-tier missile shield combining sea- and land-based systems by 2011.

SDF organizations will probably be revamped to facilitate the effective operation of the missile defense system -- the Maritime Self-Defense Force and Air Self-Defense Force will prepare some of their units and squadrons for missile defense-related roles.

Separately, Japan has been engaged in joint research with the U.S. on key components to be used for a next-generation sea-based interceptor missile. 

Outline points overseas for SDF to defend Japan

The Asahi Shimbun  

Japan's new defense outline tears down geographic constraints on missions of the Self-Defense Forces and allows troops to land in any country to fight a potential terrorist threat.

The new National Defense Program Outline, approved by the Cabinet on Friday, also specifies North Korea and China as major potential threats to Japan's security.

It is the first time China has been named a possible threat in a defense program outline.

The third National Defense Program Outline also for the first time clearly states the SDF will be prepared to meet two new threats-ballistic missiles and terrorists.

The past two program outlines made no mention of a possible threat source. Those outlines instead laid down the minimum defense capability deemed necessary to protect the nation from invaders.

The first outline was compiled in 1976 when the Cold War was still raging. The second outline, completed in 1995, was designed to lay out Japan's national security strategy after the Cold War.

The third National Defense Program Outline drastically expands the area in which the SDF can defend the nation. It states the area from the Middle East to East Asia constitutes ``an extremely important region for our security.''

Previous outlines did not define an area for defense, but it was assumed the SDF would defend the country in or around Japanese territory.

Defense Agency officials said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States had a significant influence when the new program outline was drawn up.

In addition to international terrorist groups, the program outline refers to North Korea and China as potential threats.

The document states that North Korea's military activities pose ``an important factor for instability.''

It also states that ``there is a need to pay attention to future trends'' of China in light of the modernization of its military and the expansion of its maritime activity range.

The program outline says the major objective of SDF activities is to ``improve the international security environment and to ensure that threats do not reach our nation.''

This implies that the SDF will be dispatched to fight terrorism wherever it may pose a threat to Japanese security.

To accomplish that objective, the government must first revise the SDF Law.

Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono indicated Friday that his agency would submit legislation to the Diet session convening in January to give the SDF the legal authority to upgrade overseas activities to a mainline duty. The legislation would also simplify the chain of command for responding to incoming ballistic missiles.

SDF members will receive improved training and education to prepare for overseas dispatches, according to the outline. Units will be reconfigured and transport capabilities strengthened to allow for a rapid deployment of troops.

The government emphasized the Japan-U.S. security alliance as an important element to respond to new threats.

The program outline calls for closer cooperation with the United States through strategic dialogue that would involve discussions on sharing strategic objectives and dividing roles.

In particular, the outline states the immediate need to establish a missile defense system in cooperation with the United States.

To achieve that objective, Japan will prepare four Aegis destroyers for the installation of the Standard Missile 3 system. A surface-to-air Patriot Advanced Capability 3 system will be deployed at three sites.

Those systems will be acquired from the United States.(IHT/Asahi: December 11,2004)  



2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.