China to be described as ‘greatest strategic challenge’ in Japan’s latest National Security Strategy

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo

China’s hegemonic moves are described as “the greatest strategic challenge” Japan faces in a draft of the National Security Strategy (NSS), which is set to be revised in mid-December.

The government submitted the draft to a working team of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito on Wednesday.

The current NSS, formulated in 2013, refers to China as “an issue of concern for the international community.”

The description of China as a “challenge” in the draft reflects Japan’s position of seeking “constructive and stable relations” with Beijing while expressing utmost caution.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refers to China’s moves as “systemic challenges” in its strategic concept. The United States has also described China’s moves as challenges.

China’s “external posture and military movements are a matter of serious concern to Japan and the international community,” according to the NSS draft, which also states that Japan would respond in cooperation with its ally, the United States, to maintain and strengthen the international order based on the rule of law.

In the draft, North Korea is described as a “serious and imminent threat,” while Russia is described as a “direct threat” to Europe for having shaken the “foundations of the international order” with its invasion of Ukraine, and a “strong concern” in terms of security, in light of its deepening cooperation with China in areas surrounding Japan.

The draft includes a policy of implementing “active cyber defense” to prevent cyber attacks. The National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity will be disbanded and a new organization will be established to assume the command post function of directing cyber defense, according to the draft.