Q&A on Japan’s National Security Strategy, National Defense Program Guidelines and Mid-Term Defense Program

On December 17, 2013, Japan stipulated its first ever National Security Strategy (NSS) and based on this new strategy the Cabinet meeting approved the new National Defense Program (NDPG). Here, the main points of these programs will be explained in a Q&A format based on the overview provided in last month’s edition.

Q1 Please provide an overview of the NSS and the NDPG.

A1.The NSS represents Japan’s fundamental policy on national security and defines the approach Japan should take for its national security needs from the perspective of long-term national interests.

The NSS states as its fundamental principle, “proactive contribution to peace based on the principle of international cooperation,” under which Japan will make more proactive contributions to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the international community, while also ensuring Japan’s own security.

The formulation and official announcement of the NSS will enhance the transparency and foster greater understanding of Japan’s national security policy from people both in Japan and abroad. The other purpose of the NSS is to contribute to more consistent national security policy within the government.

Going forward, national security policies will be implemented more strategically and systematically with a focus on diplomacy and defense measures through strong political leadership, under the guide of the National Security Council, and based on the NSS.

The new NDPG and MTDP have been formulated based on the NSS. These programs lay out the need to strengthen defense capabilities in order for the SDF to fully execute its role in the future, given the fact that the national security environment surrounding Japan has grown increasingly severe since the 2010 NDPG were drawn up.

Q2 What are the main differences with the 2010 NDPG?

A2.The new NDPG are intended to comprehensively strengthen Japan’s defense structure given the fact that the national security environment surrounding Japan has grown increasingly severe since the previous 2010 NDPG were formulated.

Specifically, the new NDPG assess Japan’s defense capabilities from the perspective of joint operations and based on these results call for the implementation of flexible and sustainable activities appropriate for joint operations. In addition, the new NDPG promote the efficient development of integrated highly effective defense capabilities that enhance deterrence and response capability as well as ensure necessary and sufficient quality and quantity for supporting various defense activities.

As a result, the new NDPG attempt to build a Dynamic Joint Defense Force for the future that can seamlessly and flexibly respond to various situations, including “gray zone” situations.

Q3 What does Dynamic Joint Defense Force mean?

A3.As the national security environment facing Japan has grown increasingly severe since the previous 2010 NDPG were formulated, the SDF will be required to respond on more occasions to gray zone and other situations and also engage in peacetime activities for more extended periods of time. As a result, the SDF must enhance its deterrence and response capability as well as ensure necessary and sufficient quality and quantity for supporting various defense activities, in order to implement appropriate activities flexibly and sustainably based on joint operations as well as further strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

From this point of view, as for future defense capabilities, particularly important defense functions and capabilities must be optimized as a whole, given changes in the national security environment. The defense force also must be an effective one which enables conducting a diverse range of activities to be seamless as well as dynamic and adapting to situations as the demand.

To that end, Japan will build a Dynamic Joint Defense Force focused on readiness, sustainability, resiliency and connectivity both tangibly and intangibly, reinforced by Command Control Communication Intelligence capabilities, advanced technologies and a broad reaching logistical support infrastructure.

Q4 What kind of changes were made to principal matters and core units in the new MTDP?

A4.The new MTDP contains the following principal programs.

  • In order to effectively deter and respond to various situations, Aegis-equipped and other destroyers, submarines, fixed-wing patrol aircraft, fighters, and transport aircraft will be procured and their service life extended, unmanned aerial vehicles, airborne early-warning (and control) aircraft, new aerial refueling/transport aircraft, a new class of destroyers, tiltrotor aircraft, and maneuver combat vehicles will be introduced, and the capabilities of Aegis-equipped destroyers and PAC-3 missiles will be enhanced to defend against ballistic missiles. In addition, changes in core units include the following:
  • The GSDF will further reduce its tanks and howitzers/rockets, while also newly establishing rapid deployment divisions and rapid deployment brigades focused on agile operations, newly establishing Ground Central Command to make it possible to operate the new rapid deployment divisions and rapid deployment brigades across Japan, strengthen the capabilities of the units on remote islets in the Southwest region, and newly establish an amphibious rapid deployment brigade.
  • In addition to four Escort Flotillas which are mainly consisted of one DDH and two Aegis-equipped destroyers, the MSDF will have five Escort Fleets consisted of other destroyers. Also, the MSDF will take steps to increase its submarines.
  • The ASDF is planning on relocating one fighter squadron to the Naha Air Base, making it two fighter squadrons and establishing a new Airborne Early Warning Group (provisional name).
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