Diet must debate how to strengthen deterrence amid security concerns

The peace of the international community is facing a serious crisis due to Russia’s outrageous act. Ruling and opposition parties must proactively engage in discussions on concrete measures to strengthen Japan’s deterrence, while at the same time enhancing international cooperation.

The House of Councillors Budget Committee held a session in which parties discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The international community must act resolutely to protect the foundations of the international order and demonstrate that such an outrageous act comes at a heavy price,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

It is necessary to enhance the effectiveness of economic sanctions imposed by the Group of Seven advanced nations against Russia and pressure President Vladimir Putin to immediately end his country’s military operations.

Japan is surrounded by autocratic countries that are seeking to boost their military capabilities, and the nation’s security environment is deteriorating.

Ten Russian naval vessels passed through the Tsugaru Strait from Thursday to Friday. North Korea recently launched two intercontinental ballistic-class missiles into the Sea of Japan.

China has been stepping up its hegemonic behavior by intruding into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands on a regular basis.

During the Budget Committee session, Rui Matsukawa of the Liberal Democratic Party said, “If Japan permits the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory, there will be a negative impact on issues regarding Taiwan and the Senkaku Islands.” The series of provocative actions by China and other countries cannot be overlooked.

Germany has decided to drastically increase its defense spending in response to the situation in Ukraine. Japan also urgently needs to drastically strengthen its defense capabilities.

In response to the rapid development of missile technology in China and North Korea, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi pointed out the reality of Japan’s inadequate preparedness, and he called for public understanding about proceeding with plans to consider possessing capabilities to attack enemy bases.

Possessing counterattack capabilities that could destroy missile launch sites and other targets for self-defense purposes would discourage an enemy from attacking Japan. This is different from a preemptive attack, which is against international law.

It is essential for ruling and opposition parties to deepen discussions on specific equipment and operations in the run-up to the review of the National Security Strategy at the end of the year.

The government has provided Ukraine with bulletproof vests and other equipment. It is only right that a measure in support of a country that has been unilaterally invaded was widely supported by opposition parties.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among others, has called for discussions on seeking a nuclear sharing arrangement, under which nuclear weapons would be jointly operated with the United States. However, priority should be given to considering possessing counterattack capabilities with conventional weapons. Complicating the debate by abruptly spewing out points of contention must be avoided.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on March 12, 2022.