Speech by Minister of Defense Iwaya at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

January 17, 2019

Japan's National Defense Strategy


Minister of Defense Iwaya
Minister of Defense Iwaya


 Good morning everybody. Thank you very much, Dr. Hamre, Dr. Green, Mr. Armitage, for your kind introduction. And thank you all for gathering here today. It is indeed my pleasure to have this opportunity to speak at CSIS today.

 The entrance of CSIS reminded me of my last visit here in May 2015. I then took part in a panel discussion on U.S.-Japan Security Cooperation here, which was held right after the revision of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation. This was also at a time during intensive discussions regarding the Legislation for Peace and Security in Japan, and when Prime Minister Abe addressed a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress, calling the Japan-U.S. Alliance “an alliance of hope.”

 It has been three years and eight months since then. Our Japan-U.S. Alliance has become stronger than ever. The new Guidelines and Legislation for Peace and Security served to further deepen the defense cooperation between our two nations and to bolster the alliance’s ability to deter and counter threats.

 For example, in November 2017, when we were experiencing rising regional tensions with North Korea, Japan’s helicopter destroyer “Ise” participated in a joint exercise in the Sea of Japan with three U.S. aircraft carriers “Ronald Reagan”, “Theodore Roosevelt” and “Nimitz”. We successfully demonstrated our strong will and capability through this activity, which was conducted for the first time in history. But we must not forget that such events would not have been possible without the close cooperation between our Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, JSDF, and U.S. Forces. I think you can see from this example how the Japan-U.S. Alliance is playing a significant role for the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the international community.

 The basics for making a strong alliance are: each country’s own efforts to build up national defense; and aligned directions both countries aim for. The Trump Administration swiftly formulated and announced the National Security Strategy (NSS) and the National Defense Strategy (NDS) after his inauguration. These documents stipulate to strengthen the capability of U.S. Forces and to emphasize the importance of alliances. This reassured Japan as one of the U.S. allies.

 Japan also formulated new policy documents on December 18th last year. They are the National Defense Program Guidelines or NDPG, and the Mid-Term Defense Program or MTDP, which sets our target level of the defense spending and procurement over the next five years. We will significantly upgrade our defense capability, and will work to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance based on the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation. The international security environment, our alliance is currently facing, is not easy as you know, but I am confident that the direction of Japan and the United States are more aligned than ever.

 Having these new NDPG and MTDP in mind, today, I would like to talk about how Japan intends to improve our defense posture, and how we are aiming to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

[Outline of New NDPG and MTDP] [Overview]

 In December 2013, the Japanese version of the NSC was established. As Defense Minister, I am a member of the Council. When formulating the NDPG, at the NSC, all relevant ministers including Prime Minister Abe had a series of intensive discussions. I can say that the new NDPG, the product of these discussions, is a strategy document embodying Japan’s political will and setting the direction of our national security.

 The security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe and uncertain at a remarkably fast speed. In particular, we have seen changes in the balance of power among countries. Also, rapid expansion in the use of new domains, which are space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, is poised to fundamentally change the existing paradigm of national security. This is what drove Japan’s recent formulation of the new NDPG. Under this NDPG, Japan aims to drastically improve our defense posture, expand our roles we can perform, and strengthen our defense capabilities at a speed radically different from the past.

 In the new NDPG, we crystalized three basic principles for Japan’s national defense.

 First, Japan will improve its own posture for national defense. As a sovereign nation, we will continue to make efforts to proactively ensure our security on our own accord. In doing so, we will directly contribute to a stronger Japan-U.S. Alliance.

 Second, Japan will further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance. We will accelerate our effort in accordance with the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, to bolster the ability of the Alliance to deter and counter threats.

 Third, under the vision of Free and Open Indo-Pacific, we will strategically enhance cooperation with countries sharing universal values and security interests. The Japan-U.S. Alliance will be positioned as a cornerstone in promoting such cooperation.

 In order to improve Japan’s defense posture, we have introduced a “Multi-domain Defense Force” as a concept to further realize our effective defense capability.

 The key to integrating this “Multi-domain Defense Force” lies in the development of our “cross-domain operations.” This is critical to the deterrence and response to qualitatively and quantitatively superior threats. We believe that this concept will enable us to overcome any deficiency in individual domains.

 To this end, Japan will emphasize efforts to acquire and strengthen our capabilities in the “new domains” of space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum.

 Also, as for capabilities in the “traditional domains,” we will strive to establish maritime and air superiority as well as strengthen our capabilities of stand-off firepower and comprehensive air and missile defense.

 Ultimately, our aim is to organically integrate capabilities in all domains, both in “new domains” and “traditional domains,” to generate synergy and amplify the overall strength.

 Another important aspect of the new NDPG is “to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance.” By further strengthening the stronger-than-ever Alliance and combining the powers of both countries, we will be able to deter any threat and counter any situation. Later, I will specifically explain direction of cooperation for this purpose.


 We will drastically improve our defense posture at a speed fundamentally different from the past, and expand roles we can perform. This is not a rhetorical statement. In order to be consistent with the strong determination expressed in the NDPG, we will promote concrete actions necessary for strengthening our defense capabilities. This enables us to respond to the current security environment surrounding our country. We will carry out these actions in accordance with the budgets described in the new MTDP, which is the target level of our defense capability over the next five years.

 In the new MTDP, you can find numbers related to the amount of money. What I would like you to pay attention the most is the target level of defense build-up over the next five years. That is 245.3 billion U.S. dollars. This is a large 11 percent increase, or a 25.0 billion U.S. dollars increase, compared to the previous MTDP. This is a record-high amount.

 According to this, we believe that we will be able to take necessary measures to realize the capability enhancement expressed in the NDPG. This shows our strong determination towards our national defense.

[Concrete Initiatives for Strengthening Defense Capabilities]

 Now, I would like to explain our concrete initiatives to develop our “Multi-domain Defense Force.” First and foremost, we must gain and improve our capabilities in “new domains.” 

 For space, we will monitor situations of space all the time and develop capabilities to disrupt opponent’s command-and-control and information communications. By Japanese fiscal year 2022, we will establish a “Space Domain Mission Unit” in order to ensure superiority in the use of space at all stages from peacetime to contingencies. Regarding cyberspace, by fiscal year 2023, we will establish a “Cyber Defense Unit” under the direct command of the defense minister. This will drastically enhance cyber defense capabilities, including those to disrupt opponent’s use of cyberspace in its armed attack against Japan. Also, our plan includes a major increase in personnel engaging in cyber space.

 Furthermore, in regards to the strengthening of our capabilities in the “traditional domains,” we will prioritize its implementation to effectively deal with armed attacks from aircraft, ships, and missiles against Japan.

 In detail, in order to establish and maintain maritime and air superiority in the surrounding area of Japan, including the airspace and waters of the Pacific, we will enhance the capabilities of our ships and aircraft. For example, we will acquire an additional 105 F-35s, in addition to 42 that we have already planned to acquire. This will make a total of 147. Once we complete the integration of all of them, Japan will possess the largest number of F-35s among all U.S. Allies. Included in the procurement of the 105 additional aircraft, 42 may be capable of STOVL. We will also refurbish the “Izumo-class” destroyers for possible operations of these STOVL aircraft. Once we become able to operate the STOVLs on board “Izumo-class” destroyers, Japan will have more air bases available for temporary take-off and landing, further enhancing our operational flexibility. This will significantly improve our air defense posture on the Pacific, where we currently only maintain a single air base available for jet fighters on I?t?, or the island of Iwo-jima.

 Moreover, in order to be able to counter from off the range of threats, we will enhance Stand-Off defense capabilities against ships or landing forces trying to invade Japan. For this purpose, we will steadily proceed with the procurement of stand-off missiles such as JASSM and LRASM, as well as the research and development of other equipment such as Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile for the defense of remote islands.

 Further, in order to deal with increasingly diverse and complex air and missile threats, posed not only by ballistic missiles but also cruise missiles, aircraft and others, we will enhance our comprehensive air and missile defense capability. As part of this effort, Japan will continue working on swift introduction and deployment of the Aegis Ashore, the E-2D, and the latest Aegis-equipped destroyer. Through these developments, we aim to construct a defense posture sufficient to counter any types of threat in order to defend Japanese territory at all times. We will try to do this under a unified command and control, combining all forces of the JSDF for air and missile defense.

 Let me now touch upon Japan’s future fighter. Our F-2 fighters are expected to retire from the late 2030s. Therefore, Japan decided to “promote necessary research and launch at an early timing a Japan-led development project with the possibility of international collaboration in sight.” As for its development, Japan has five priorities: 1. Capability for future air superiority; 2. Potential to expand capability by incorporating next-generation technology; 3. Freedom of modification and upgrading; 4. Participation of domestic industry; and 5. Affordable cost, needless to say. We will proceed with this program with these priorities in mind. Interoperability with the United States will also be a point of interest in moving forward with this project.

[The Way Forward: the Future of Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation]

 Now I would like to speak about the other key of the NDPG: the future of Japan-U.S. cooperation for “further strengthening the Alliance.”

 First of all, I am certain that the cooperation in “new domains” is essential for improving the overall Japan-U.S. joint response capabilities including cross-domain operations. Among these new domains, Japan has already started to deepen cooperation with the United States in the space domain. Japan’s first participation in the Schriever Wargame last October was a milestone that showed our unity of effort with the U.S. Air Force Space Command. I am also aware that, last December, President Trump ordered the creation of the U.S. Space Command as the eleventh unified combatant command. Space is critical to our improved capabilities for the operations and we shall hope to secure a close relationship between the U.S. Space Command and our prospective “Space Domain Mission Unit”.

 In regards to the cyberspace domain, we would also like to enhance our capabilities by receiving continuous support from the United States and further deepen cooperation with the U.S. Cyber Command.

 Strengthening Japan-U.S. bilateral operational cooperation could be another topic. Japan and the United States have already made close cooperation in BMD by information sharing and the deployment of U.S. assets such as Aegis destroyers and TPY-2 radars to Japan. Meanwhile, Japan plans to introduce U.S.-made Aegis Ashore, expecting tremendous increase in our BMD capability. We cannot overlook the fact that North Korea’s nuclear and missile capability continues to be a serious and imminent threat to our security. This fact makes it even more important for Japan-U.S. cooperation to be rock-solid.

 Also, the JSDF has started to conduct new activities enabled by the implementation of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation and the Legislation for Peace and Security. For example, the U.S. Forces’ asset protection mission by the JSDF enables the both countries to help each other out. This has made our bond stronger. We are also providing logistic support, such as refueling activities to the U.S. Navy engaging in ISR and other operations. These support functions of the JSDF serve to enhance the efficacy and flexibility of U.S. Forces operations, and we will continue to proactively deepen such cooperation between our two countries in the operational field.

 The shared vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” is also pivotal to our alliance. The new NDPG highlights the importance of creating a desirable security environment. With the Japan-U.S. Alliance as a cornerstone, Japan will strategically promote international security cooperation in close coordination with countries sharing universal values and security interests, such as Australia, India and Southeast Asian countries. As an example of such cooperation, Japan has conducted trilateral exercise “MALABAR” with the United States and India for two consecutive years since 2017. We also started to dispatch our Izumo-class destroyer on long-term deployments the same year. In October 2018, our destroyer “Kaga” completed a two-month deployment to the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. During this deployment, “Kaga” conducted Japan-U.S. joint exercise. It also conducted capacity building assistance activities in Sri Lanka.

 Besides, Japan and the United States confirmed and announced “Examples of Japan-U.S. cooperation to maintain and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific” during the summit meeting last September. It includes potential areas of cooperation for our two nations, such as providing capacity building assistance in the field of maritime security to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in a mutually complementary manner. In order to establish the desired security environment for the Japan-U.S. Alliance, it is essential to strengthen the presence of Japan and the United States in the Indo-Pacific region and we will continue our efforts to that end.

 Moreover, I would like to talk about cooperation in defense equipment and technologies. Regarding Japan-U.S. joint research and development, we are seeking for new project after SM-3 Block IIA. We will try to improve our technologies in “new domains” and incorporate cutting-edge potentially game-changing technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, through exchanges with U.S. institutions. We will proactively utilize civilian technology as well.

 It is also crucial to promote the efficient acquisition of U.S. defense equipment. Accordingly, streamlining of the Foreign Military Sales or FMS process is becoming more and more important, since reducing the cost and ensuring the timely delivery of equipment are major challenges for us. High-performance U.S. equipment such as Aegis system and F-35 are procured through FMS and the expense is growing substantially over recent years. In the draft budget for the next fiscal year, FMS related expenses reached approximately 6.4 billion U.S. dollars, which is the largest amount ever and about a 70% increase compared to the previous year. Included in this amount is the budget for a bulk procurement of nine E-2Ds with a huge cost reduction compared to single-year procurement. This is our first attempt at a bulk FMS procurement over the course of five years. We are expecting a large reduction in cost, and would like to work closely with the United States to complete this successful procurement.

 Lastly, I would like to emphasize measures taken to ensure the smooth and effective stationing of U.S. Forces in Japan (USFJ). USFJ is playing an essential role in maintaining the Japan-U.S. Alliance. To this end, we will steadily proceed with projects for the realignment of USFJ and will mitigate the impact on local communities, while sustaining the deterrence offered by the U.S. Forces. Notably, on the construction of Futenma Replacement Facility, we started the landfill work in Henoko on December 14th last year. Motivated by the strong will to resolve this issue that has spanned for 22 years, we will steadily proceed with the construction to enable the early return of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.


 In closing, I would like to tell you a phrase I like. It goes “Sincerity is the way to heaven.” This is one of the tenets of the Chinese philosopher Mencius, and I keep this as my motto. This phrase teaches us that “If you act with sincerity, heaven will know in time.” or “Anyone will be moved by means of sincere devotion.”

 To date, this teaching has attracted many Japanese people including the leading spirits of the Meiji restoration and encouraged them to take action. The words “Sincerity is the way to heaven” embodies the “Samurai spirit”.

 With the revision of NDPG and formulation of new MTDP, Japan has clarified its way ahead. The current direction of both Japan and the United States to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance is aligned, so now is a golden opportunity for both of us. I will lead the Ministry of Defense, MOD/JSDF working together and making every possible effort following the spirit of “Sincerity is the way to heaven” so as to strengthen our own defense capabilities and make our alliance even stronger. I truly believe our efforts will contribute to supporting the peace and stability not only in Japan but also in the United States, our ally and the most important friend, and ultimately in the Indo-Pacific and across the entire world.

 Again, I appreciate support and cooperation from CSIS, Dr. Hamre and Dr. Green.

 Thank you very much for your attention.