National Security of Japan (2023)

Section 2. National Security of Japan

International developments with significant bearings on Japan's security have been noted, such as the progress in dialogue between East and West and the normalization of relations between China and the Soviet Union. Yet, the peace and stability of the world are, in reality, maintained by the balance of power. National security, in the realities of the international community, boils down to efforts to deter or eliminate threats and aggressions from the outside thereby maintaining national independence and prosperity and protecting the lives, freedom, and property of the people. Thus, to ensure security in all possible ways is the most important of all diplomatic tasks.

1. Characteristics of Security in the Asia-Pacific Region (Note)

(1) Characteristics of Strategic Environment in the Asia-Pacific Region

The strategic environment of Japan and the other parts of the Asia-Pacific region is characterized as follows as compared with that of Europe. The concept of East-West balance in Europe does not apply to this region as it is

(a) The military forces of East and West confront each other on land in Europe. In the Asia-Pacific region, they stand opposite each other across the seas generally. For this reason, the naval force and the air force that supports it play an important deterrent role.

(b) The free and democratic countries confront the socialist countries through NATO and the Warsaw Pact Organization in Europe. Security in the Asia-Pacific region, with countries of diverse backgrounds in politics, economy, ideology, and history, is based mainly on bilateral relations with the United States or the Soviet Union.

(c) In the Asia-Pacific region, moves by China, that belongs to neither the United States nor the Soviet Union, significantly influence the strategic environment of the region.

(2) Increasing Strategic Importance of the Northwestern Pacific

In considering the security of the region, it is necessary to take into account, the strategic importance of the Northwestern Pacific that has increased so much from a global point of view.

In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union deployed submarine-based ballistic missile forces in the Northwestern Pacific for the first time. But the missiles, SS-N-6s carried by the early SSBNs (nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines) of the Yankee I class did not have enough range to reach the U.S. mainland from that region. The strategic environment in the Northwestern Pacific drastically changed toward the end of the 1970s as the Soviet Union deployed SSBNs of the Delta III class. The submarines carry SS-N-18 ballistic missiles the range of which cover most of the U.S. mainland even from the Sea of Okhotsk and the northern part of the Sea of Japan.

The basic objectives of the Soviet strategy in that strategic environments are considered first to protect its SSBNs deployed in the North-western Pacific and to achieve the aim by turning the Sea of Okhotsk and the northern part of the Sea of Japan, where the SSBNs are deployed, into its own "sancturies," and second to weaken the U.S. presence, particularly of the U.S. Navy, in the region.

(3) Growing Geopolitical and Strategic Importance of Japan

Japan holds a geopolitically and strategically important position in the Northwestern Pacific because it has straits that the Soviet Navy must pass through in order to conduct operations in open seas. Japan's geopolitical and strategic importance is increasing more than ever due to the alteration of the strategic environment in the Northwestern Pacific.

2. Moves of the Countries Concerned That Must Be Taken Into Account for Japan's Security

(1) Soviet Moves

(a) The Soviet Union seems to be trying hard to build an international environment favorable for the promotion of perestroika. At the same time, it appears to be earnestly in the process of restructuring its armed forces to a level sufficient and necessary to efficiently achieve its military goal. The Soviet Union has recently been endeavoring to improve relations with the United States, China and Western Europe, advance arms control and disarmament initiatives and alluded to reductions in military spending. All of these Soviet moves can be interpreted as based on the Soviet policy mentioned above.

(b) The Soviet Union has recently defined its military doctrine as defensive strings that it would limit its military capability to a "reasonably sufficient" level. As yet it is difficult to find concrete evidence that the Soviet military policy has essentially changed. However, some signs of change in its military posture are discernible: for example, the Soviet proposed arms reduction involving withdrawal of its foreign troops from foreign lands, partially implemented, and partially scaled down military activities around the Soviet territories.

(c) A look at the military posture in the Far East shows, however, that the Soviet Union has consistently built up its military power in the Far East since around the middle of the 1960s, thus possessing enormous military capabilities in the area. The Soviet military forces in the Far East account for one-third to one-fourth of all the Soviet military power, and its Pacific fleet is the largest of all the four fleets possessed by the Soviet Union. Recently, the Soviet Union deployed Akula class nuclear-powered attack submarines, Sovremenny-class and Udaloy-class missile destroyers in the Pacific, and fourth-generation fighters, such as MiG-31, MiG-29, and Su-27, in the same region, thereby continuing to modernize its naval and air forces. There may be a slight reduction in the Soviet armed forces in the Far East in terms of quantity, but the West must keep a close watch on Soviet moves in the region because qualitative improvements of its military capabilities is anticipated. Such an improvement may occur in the form of more cruise missiles carrying submarines, more missile-equipped and nuclear-powered submarines and surface ships improving missile-carrying capabilities of bombers and fighter planes, and their attack capabilities.

(d) The Soviet Union has advanced various initiatives on arms control and disarmament in the region, and it is expected that such Soviet moves will be accelerated over a wider range in the future. It is necessary to find out the true aims of the Soviet Union and to carefully deal with them. In view of the fact that the national security of the allies and friends of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region is maintained by U.S. military presence, a weakening of it by arms reduction would seriously affect the security of the region.

(2) U.S. Moves

The Bush Administration of the United States faces financial difficulties of a serious magnitude that compels it to be more selective in determining the priority of defense modernization in cutting back on the defense budget.

Following in the step of the Reagan Administration, the Bush Administration is dealing with the security tasks that the Asia-Pacific region faces; the situation on the Indochina peninsula, the Korean Peninsula, China, and Myanmar (formerly Burma), and Soviet interest in Asia with due recognition of the importance of the Asia-Pacific region, particularly the importance of alliance with Japan.

A basic strategy of the United States is that the country, in collaboration with its allies, effectively counters threats or invasion by the Soviet Union through a strategy of flexible response and forward deployment of its forces, so as to maintain the security of the U.S. and its allies. Likewise, the deterrence in the Asia-Pacific region, as elsewhere, is being assured through forward deployment of forces.

(3) Moves of Other Countries in the Asia-Pacific Region

The countries in the Asia-Pacific region have different views as to national value and threats to them. The fact accounts, in part, for their different approaches, for example, to the initiatives taken by the Soviet Union. Although the diplomatic efforts of the Soviet Union in the Asia-Pacific region have not always been successful, it is expected that such moves of the Soviet Union will be more active in the future. The deterrent force of the United States and the close security relations between Japan and the United States play an important role in the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, and it is necessary to maintain the security of the West while paying due attention to the interests and concern of the individual countries in the region.

3. National Security Policy of Japan

The national security policy of Japan consists of three principal elements: Diplomatic efforts as a means of forestalling actual threats and aggression, the Japan-U.S. security system and the improvement of the defense capability as a means of deterring or eliminating threats and aggression. Given the circumstances described in the preceding section, Japan is implementing its security policy as follows:

First, what is important to safeguard the national security of Japan is active diplomatic efforts to maintain a more stable international environment. This basically means having an accurate understanding of the intentions and actions of the countries surounding Japan and responding appropriately in the diplomatic sphere, including efforts such as those to keep disputes from erupting into conflicts, to promote East-West dialogue vigorously as a member of the Western community of nations, and to contribute to disarmament and arms control. It is also important for Japan to make positive contributions in a wide range of fields encompassing economy, economic cooperation, science and technology, and cultural exchange.

There is a widespread opinion in the United States, especially in the Congress, that Japan and other allies should share the burden for the peace and prosperity of the world. Japan believes that the allies can contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world not in a uniform way but that it is important for each to fulfill its responsibility from its own standpoint not only in defense but also in many other areas.

Japan deems it a natural responsibility of its own to play a positive role proportionate to its increased national power in contributing to the peace and prosperity of the world. It is ready to fulfill its international obligations as "a Japan Contributing to the World" by promoting the "International Cooperation Initiative" which consists of cooperation for peace, expanding ODA, and promoting international cultural exchange.

Second, it is a stark fact that the peace and stability of the international community today rests basically upon the balance of power and deterrence. From this perspective, Japan ensures its security by the maintaining of the minimum necessary defense capabilities and the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. Japan is required to exert maximum efforts to maintain and strengthen the credibility of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. From this standpoint, Japan is taking various measures to facilitate and make effective the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan. It conducts studies under the guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation and is promoting cooperation with the U.S. in the area of security and defense through Japan-U.S. joint exercises, and opening a way for the transfer to the United States of military technologies.

Third, along with firmly maintaining security arrangements with the United States, the need to protect Japan's peace and stability means that it is also important to ensure that Japan has an adequate defense capability of its own. Under its Peace Constitution Japan is thus striving to develop moderate yet effective defense capabilities in line with its basic policies of maintaining an exclusively defensive posture and never becoming a military power which would threaten its neighbors, adhering to the principle of civilian control, and observing the three non-nuclear principles. And Japan must also continue these efforts. Together with the security arrangements with the United States, these efforts to enhance Japan's defense capability consequently contribute to maintaining the security of the free and democratic community of nations as a whole and to peace and stability in Asia and hence all the world.

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Note: The Asia-Pacific region here refers to all the Western Pacific regions, including Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania.

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