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Japan’s Revised Defence Posture in 2013: An Assessment

The report recently published by Japan's Defence Posture Review Commission projects an expected shift in Japan's upcoming Defence Programme Guidelines, slated to be out by the wrap-up of this year. It points out the changing gage environment in the region and outlines the required defence preparedness as per perceived contingencies. It reiterates Abe's vision of a more 'realistic 'defence policy amidst the shifting security furthermore geopolitical acclimatization from East Asia. Why does Japan need to revise its defence policy? What is new in Japan's Defence Posture Review Interim Report? Does the new defence posture from Japan gives more power to Abe, reiterating the magisterial 'Abenomics'?

Why Revise the Policy?

Three reasons could be pointed public for revising the defence policy. Firstly, China threatens Japan's de jure jurisdiction over the Southwest islands in Oriental China Sea. China has been sending ships inside Japanese waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyu by China), where China has claims of sovereignty. Secondly, the weapons development programme by its immediate neighbours has produced a sense of inveigh perception in Japan. North Korea is believed to have an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles capable of reaching Japan. China has a growing arsenal from sophisticated conventional weapons. It is considered to have one of the most diversify including spry ballistic missile progress programmes in the world. It is testing and developing offensive missiles, upgrading missile systems, and developing counter ballistic missile defense capability. Thirdly, with a focus on 'Abenomics', Abe wants to have a grip on every possible national security issue to centralise the security-related decision-making process, clashing the present decentralised system.

What is New in Japan's Defence Posture Review Interim Report?

First, it emphasises the need to strengthen Japan's defence cooperation plus its acknowledged ally, the US. It stresses about the exigence to secure the trust environment in Asia Pacific, stabilise the security environment in cooperation with the international community, and promote international peace cooperation activities. This would require Japan to review its Right to Collective Oneself Defence (Article 9) of the constitution. Currently, the Japanese government is considering revising this article to give a flexible shape to its existing defence posture. It has showed interest in using its Self Defence Forces to help nations whose interests are intertwined with Tokyo. As put by Japan, this will guarantee its commitment towards global peace and stability.

Secondly, the report emphasises strengthening the defence build-up of the country to respond to the contingencies. It talks about the need to help intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, security of remote islands, natural disaster management, overseas operation, cyber security, upgrading and developing its amphibious capability, and promoting joint operations to upgrade the defence build-up concerning the country. The emphasised capacity-building effort would require Japan to expand its defence expenditure, which Japan has already considered. Japan has announced the biggest rise in its defence expenditure in 22 years. Interestingly, its defence budget declined every annual from 2002 to 2012.

More Power to 'Abenomics'?

To get a tenacious grip on the country's defence machinery, Abe has proposed to create a national security council. Replacing the existing security council, it would bring about two major changes. Firstly, it would strengthen the role of the important minister and cabinet office in national security policy-making by establishing a sub-committee concerning the prime minister, the clergyman of foreign affairs, the chief cabinet secretary and the minister of defence to consider issues of national security and defence. Secondly, it creates a new position, national assurance advisor, and establishes a secretariat for the council. The present security council has no fixed secretariat, and establishing one will ensure that the NSC is independent from other ministries. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the purpose about the Japanese NSC would be to enable the government to carry out flexible diplomacy and work on security measures strategically. It would too ease lore flow among various government organisations in an integrated fashion.

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