Japan Panel Urges Strong Military 12/11 07:37
TOKYO (AP) -- A near-final draft of a new Japanese national security
strategy calls for a stronger military to deal with a rising China and other
growing risks close to home.
The development of the formal security strategy is part of Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe's push to boost Japan's defense and its international role. It
reflects global power shifts, notably changes in the relative influence of
Japan's longtime protector, the United States.
"As the security environment surrounding our country gets increasingly
severe, we have been working to rebuild our national security policy with a
firm commitment to defend the people's lives and possessions," Abe said
Wednesday at a meeting where a panel of experts and lawmakers discussed their
The national security strategy is modeled in part on similar documents in
the United States and elsewhere. The Cabinet is expected to approve the
strategy next week, along with a revision of Japan's long-term defense program
Much of the strategy is contentious, as many Japanese remain wary of moves
away from the pacifist constitution adopted after World War II. One early sign
of opposition was a drop in Abe's popularity ratings last weekend after his
government forced through legislation to strengthen the protection of
South Korea is also uncomfortable with any Japanese military expansion
because it was colonized by Japan, and China is likely to protest.
"Japan's accusations and hyping of the China threat have an ulterior
motive," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday. "We urge
Japan to follow the historical trend, walk on the path of peaceful development
and make due efforts to improve ties."
The draft security strategy says changes in America's relative influence
make it necessary for Japan to expand its alliances with other countries. It
raises concern about China's rapid military expansion, as well as North Korea's
nuclear and missile capabilities.
It says Japan can contribute to peace and international stability by
strengthening its diplomatic and defense capabilities. It describes Japan's
alliance with the U.S. as an "indispensable" deterrent, but says it should be
supplemented by Tokyo's own efforts to step up missile defenses and other
To defend territorial claims in areas disputed with China, the government
should step up maritime defense, the report says, citing recent Chinese entries
into airspace and waters around contested islands in the East China Sea.
The report also says Japan should relax bans on arms exports as a way to
step up its international peacekeeping cooperation.
Shinichi Kitaoka, president of the International University of Japan and
head of the panel, said members stressed the need to allow the export of
"Japan's superb defense equipment," a move that would please domestic industry
but faces opposition from those who favor a more pacifist Japan.
The panel also endorsed the draft revision of Japan's defense guidelines,
which set priorities for the next decade and are also expected to be approved
by the Cabinet next week.
The draft proposes expanding joint military exercises with the U.S. and
surveillance activities to deal with the region's growing territorial disputes.
It also urges Japan to strengthen defense ties with South Korea in three-way
cooperation with the U.S., and expand ties with European defense networks.