Improve national security through comprehensive measures

A panel of experts has presented a comprehensive set of proposals on how Japan can overcome the weaknesses in its defense system and improve its ability to cope with them. The government should take these proposals seriously and reflect them in specific policies.

The government panel, which has been discussing how to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities, has compiled a report calling for the synthesis of various policies to utilize them for national security, and submitted it to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The government plans to revise three security-related documents, including the National Security Strategy, by the end of the year. The panel was entrusted with the task of studying the direction of defense policy, the size of the budget and ways to secure financial resources, matters that will be incorporated in the three documents.

The first thing the panel of experts cited was the need to possess the ability to counterattack in the event of an armed attack against Japan. The panel stressed that this was “essential for maintaining and enhancing deterrence,” and urged Japan to increase the range of its domestically produced missiles and to purchase foreign-made missiles.

Japan’s security environment is more critical than ever.

During the Cold War era, the government was primarily vigilant against a Soviet invasion. Now, the security of the Nansei Islands is threatened by China, which has strengthened its military capability. The threat of North Korea, which has been repeatedly launching missiles, must also be addressed.

Even if Japan possesses missiles to counterattack, it will be difficult to operate them unless it can ascertain such matters as the missile launch sites of its opponents based on satellite information. It is important for Japan to deepen cooperation with the U.S. military.

It is noteworthy that the report called for fostering the defense industry and promoting the research and development of defense equipment.

Since the defense industry’s only client is the Self-Defense Forces, an increasing number of related companies are withdrawing from the industry due to low profitability.

The panel described the defense industry as Japan’s “defense capability itself” and proposed that a government-led system be established to promote exports of defense equipment.

The government needs to review the Implementation Guidelines for the Three Principles of Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, which limits transfers to such fields as rescue, transportation and surveillance, and to encourage overseas transfers of defense equipment.

The report called for the creation of a mechanism for industry, government and academia to work together to promote the research and development of equipment. Cutting-edge science and technology such as artificial intelligence and quantum technology must be utilized in security policy.

Regarding the financial resources of the defense budget, the panel noted that any shortfall “should be shouldered by the public in a wide range of taxation items,” on the premise that spending reforms are necessary. It also noted that consideration should be given to the economic situation and public understanding must be earned.

The defense budget is a permanent expense and cannot continue to rely on government bonds. It is important for the government to urgently come up with measures to secure financial resources, including taxation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2022)