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Tokyo Overhauls Security Strategy To Align With United States

Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: January 28, 2022
US Marines take part in a field drill during joint military exercises with Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force in Eniwa, Hokkaido prefecture, on Aug. 16, 2017. Some 300 Japanese and US servicemen took part in the joint drill on Japan's northern island.
US Marines take part in a field drill during joint military exercises with Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force in Eniwa, Hokkaido prefecture, on Aug. 16, 2017. Some 300 Japanese and US servicemen took part in the joint drill on Japan's northern island. (Image: TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)

On Jan. 26, Japan began discussions on overhauling the country’s security strategy. The main focus of the discussion is boosting cooperation with the United States in areas like cybersecurity and space security.

Japan’s National Security Strategy forms the basis of the country’s defense and foreign policy. The overhaul of the security strategy will be done with a revision of Japan’s two most important defense documents—the Medium-Term Defense Program and the National Defense Program Guidelines. Both updates are expected to be completed by the end of 2022. This will be the first time that the National Security Strategy is being revised.

Tokyo’s decision to bolster its security comes as Communist China aggressively expands its military prowess, threatening Japan’s sovereignty. Beijing has challenged Tokyo on the Senkaku Islands, claiming them as Chinese territory when the islands are actually under Japanese control.

The communist regime also carries out cyberattacks against Japan. Between 2016 and 2017, Beijing ordered a hacker group to attack 200 Japanese companies, research institutions, and defense firms. 

According to Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, there have been 8.5 times more attacks on the country’s computer systems between 2015 and 2020. Since Japan lacks in cybersecurity and counteroffensive capabilities, partnering with the U.S. will help plug its vulnerabilities.

Tokyo is also looking to improve its base strike capabilities so that it can pose a credible threat to any aggressive nation. North Korea’s missile programs are believed to be one of the reasons why Japan is pursuing such capabilities. 

At present, Japan is entirely dependent on the U.S. to attack enemy bases. At a recent House budget meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that the proposed base strike capabilities will not violate the country’s pacifist constitution. He insisted that destroying another nation is “not on the agenda at all.”

“I have no intention of discussing matters that go beyond the constitution, international law, and the basic roles in the U.S.-Japan security pact… We will think about what we can do within those constraints… We will explore all realistic options without excluding anything, including the ability to strike enemy bases… Our defense capabilities need to be fundamentally bolstered,” Kishida said.

In a Jan. 27 report, Chinese state-backed media the Global Times criticized Japan’s overhaul of its security strategy, characterizing it as a threat to the communist nation. It accused Tokyo of using the United States’ “urgent need to contain China” in the region to boost its military prowess.

Tokyo’s update of its security policy comes as the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, recently warned that both the U.S. and Japan were at a “critical juncture.” The work done by the two nations will determine “the destiny” of democracy, he insisted.

“Our two nations will not shy away from any challenge or any adversary who undermines [democratic] values. What we do in partnership over the next three years will decide America’s and Japan’s posture for the next 30 years,” Emanuel said.