On the 16th, the Japanese government discussed three security-related policy documents, including the National Security Strategy (NSS), which is a basic guide for diplomatic and security strategies. The NSS was revised for the first time in nine years, and the “National Defense Strategy,” which set out defense goals and methods to achieve them, and the “Defence Reorganization Plan,” which included the Self Forces system -Defence and the total defense budget for five years, renamed and reviewed for the first time in four years. The NSS, the highest level document of national security policy, stated that Japan was “facing the most serious and complex post-war security environment,” while maintaining basic security-related principles such as total defense and the three principles of non- nuclear. It’s a big change in terms.”
In a press conference after the Cabinet, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a “very realistic simulation” of different situations, but the ability of the Self-Defense Forces to prevent and respond to threats from China, North Korea, and Russia, and etc., which are strengthening their military capabilities, including nuclear and missiles, he stressed that this is not sufficient. Specifically, in terms of what new capabilities are needed, Prime Minister Kishida said: having anti-attack capabilities, responding to new domains such as space, cyber, and electromagnetic waves, and strengthening the defense system of the Nansei Islands from the southern tip of Kyushu to the end northeastern Taiwan Eggplant was specifically mentioned.
In order to significantly strengthen defense capabilities, NSS announced that it would devise budgetary measures to gradually increase defense spending to 2% of GDP in 2027, five years later. About a trillion yen,’ he noted. The defense cost in 2027 will be 8.9 trillion yen, more than 1.5 times the current plan to invest 27.5 trillion yen over five years from 2019, and it can compete with India for the third place after the United States and China. It is questionable whether Japan’s government debt is more than 2.5 times its GDP, and opposition within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is strong against the plan to cover defense costs through tax increases at an appropriate time after 2024.
One of the key points of the policy change is the condition of having counter-attack capabilities. Counter-attack capability refers to “the ability to launch an effective counter-attack in the territory of the other side” when an armed attack on Japan occurs. This means that there will be a major change in the division of roles in the US-Japan alliance.
Although the NSS provides that “an armed attack against Japan will take place” and “in accordance with the requirements of exercise of force 3 (in the absence of other appropriate means)” and “as a required self-defense measure,” an attack on an opponent’s missile base, and so forth. The question is at what stage of an armed attack on Japan will a counter-attack be made?
As to whether Japan should be attacked at the time the other side launched the attack or after the actual attack, Prime Minister Kishida avoided an answer at a press conference, saying it was a security issue involving secrecy . Not only is it very difficult to accurately determine whether a missile is headed for Japan, but it is also very difficult to determine whether it is wrong, and there is a risk that it could lead to a pre-emptive strike prohibited by international law.
Japan’s ability to counterattack is practically difficult without cooperation with the United States. The NSS also states “coordination of operations between Japan and the United States, including the exercise of counter-attack capabilities,” and the “National Defense Strategy” states that “Japan and the United States will cooperate to deal with it the same way they do with ballistic missiles.” There is also the possibility of revising the guidelines (guidelines) for Japan-Japan defense cooperation.
Above all, in order to strengthen the ability to attack bases on the other side, the Ground Self-Defense Force is currently equipped with Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missiles, which are being improved so that they can be launched from ships, aircraft, and even submarines, as well as being developed for the defense of the island It was decided to continue introducing foreign-made stand-off missiles, including the US-made Tomahawk, while n promoting the development and refinement of long range high speed gliding missiles. and hypersonic guided missiles.
In addition, in order to ensure the effectiveness of reserve defense capabilities, information gathering, analysis, and command and control is carried out through the ‘Satellite Constellation’, which gathers information through the operation of a large number of small artificial satellites, or the maintenance of air vehicles drones and target observation bombs. He also announced that he would strengthen functions (defense maintenance plan)
Although it was found that 65% of Japanese people are in favor of having counter-attack capabilities (Nippon Economic Daily, editorial on December 17, 2022), it is doubtful whether strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities will lead to greater security in Japan. At the US-Japan summit in May, President Biden expressed support for strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities, but after the Japanese cabinet decision, Defense Secretary Austin and White House National Security Advisor Sullivan expressed their willingness to welcome and support, but the Chinese side was strongly opposed. There are.
In his address to the National Assembly on October 25, President Seok-Yeol Yoon emphasized that he would strengthen deterrence against North Korea with overwhelming capabilities through the ROK-US joint defense posture and the ROK-US-Japan security cooperation that demand the strongest level of cooperation between Korea, the United States and Japan,” he said.
Security cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan is necessary in terms of a joint response to the North Korean threat and similarities in Taiwan. Through the Status Agreement concluded by Japan with 11 countries belonging to the United Nations Command, Japan could use the 7 USFK bases under the UNC in Japan without prior consultation in case of a crisis on the Peninsula Korea, but this was not an official agreement but a secret agreement that Japan understood. Legally, prior consultation with the Japanese government is required for USFK to come to South Korea in case of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula.
Yoon Seok-yeol’s government has been actively working to improve the deteriorating Korea-Japan relations, especially to resolve the forced labor issue, and is also active in exchanges and cooperation between defense authorities, which has almost stop them. During the Lee Myung-bak administration, he tried to push for the Mutual Logistics Assistance Agreement (ACSA) and the Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan, but was frustrated. GSOMIA, which was concluded during the Park Geun-hye administration, is abnormal in that the effect of the termination notice in August 2019 has been suspended. There is a possibility that the Yoon Seok-yeol administration will completely normalize GSOMIA and restart ACSA. Depending on how far South Korea and Japan pursue security cooperation, there is a possibility that Korea-Japan and Korea-US-Japan relations will change to a completely different level than before. We look forward to our government’s wise judgment and response.
Cho Jin-goo’s main career as a writer
△Graduate of Department of Sociology, Korea University △Doctor of Law, University of Tokyo (International Politics) △Director, Japan Center, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Kyungnam University
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