Japan Plans Military Aid for 4 Countries Under New Framework

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A defense equipment exhibition is held in Chiba City in November 2019.

The government plans to announce in the near future operational guidelines for a new framework to provide aid to the militaries of like-minded countries, according to sources in the government and ruling parties.

Revisions to the National Security Strategy in December last year introduced the new aid framework, which is called official security assistance, or OSA. Under OSA, Japan will help countries improve their deterrence capabilities through the provision of defense equipment and by other means.

The government plans to provide the first round of the new aid to four countries, including the Philippines.

The government’s National Security Council will deliberate on the operational guidelines, which include basic policies for OSA, and the government will then officially decide on the scheme.

The OSA fund will provide assistance related to military affairs, which is not covered by Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) framework.

With OSA, the government plans to help mainly developing countries strengthen their security capabilities in order to help stabilize the Indo-Pacific region.

In the guidelines, the government positions OSA as a pillar for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific. The guidelines will stipulate that aid be provided to like-minded countries that share similar values such as the rule of law.

More concretely, the government will provide defense equipment within the range of the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology.

The government also plans to provide assistance for infrastructure used by military forces, such as ports and airports.

By combining the OSA and ODA schemes, the government aims to expand its network of like-minded countries, so that Japan and the assisted countries will be able to counter China and Russia, which have become increasingly hegemonic in their behavior.

For the first program based on the guidelines, the government is considering providing a radar system for warning and surveillance to the Philippine military.

The Philippines, which borders the South China Sea, has faced direct threats from China’s attempts to unilaterally change the status quo, such as by building islands from rock reefs and constructing military bases in the sea.

By providing the radar system, the government aims to help the Philippine military boost its capabilities so that order will be maintained in and around the sea.

In addition to the Philippines, the government is also considering the provision of military aid to Bangladesh, Fiji and Malaysia.

The government earmarked about ¥2 billion in its fiscal 2023 budget to finance OSA. Once the guidelines have been settled, the government plans to promptly coordinate with the concerned countries and begin on-site surveys.