Japan Proposes NSA Equivalent, Advanced Snooping

Here is my latest story for Defense News

TOKYO — A top Japanese government panel has recommended the country begin widespread monitoring of Internet-based communications, establish a Cyber Defense Corps within Japan’s Defense Ministry to protect infrastructure, and ultimately set up a Cyber Security Center, a Japanese equivalent of the US National Security Agency (NSA), according to a member of the panel.

The June 10 report, “Cyber Security 2013,” by the National Information Security Center (NISC), Japan’s top government advisory panel on Cyber security issues, which is chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, recommended legislation to introduce monitoring and to strengthen laws to combat cyber espionage, although these could prove the most controversial, according to NISC panel member Motohiro Tsuchiya.

A first priority is to extend the competency of the Cyber Defense Corps, which is being set up in Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), beyond protection of Japan’s armed forces, called the Self Defense Forces (SDF), he said.

“The MoD is thinking they cannot protect outside systems. They are focusing on protecting the SDF, since Cyber attacks do not typically involve obvious physical damage. We have proposed that the MoD must change its strategy,” Tsuchiya said.

A second step proposed by NISC is to introduce legislation to allow the Japanese government, probably through the establishment of a new agency, to monitor Internet-based communications, which is forbidden under both Article 21 of the Japanese Constitution and Article 4 of Japan’s Telecommunications Business Law.

“Under Article 21 and Article 4, the government is strictly prohibited from monitoring and wiretapping, for example. These restrictions are very strict and absolute. This is very extreme [in the context of international practice by other governments],” Tsuchiya said.

Under the NISC’s proposals, the new agency, provisionally called the Cyber Security Center, would be able to conduct limited monitoring of communications by setting up facilities at fiber optical trunk communications landing points targeting malware or suspicious communications.

Tsuchiya said that Japan badly needed an equivalent of the NSA or the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters to combat a wave of increasing serious Cyber espionage attacks on Japan.

“We might start monitoring communications. Japan is an island nation, and connected through submarine cables via landing stations. We can tap into these to watch malicious communications. We are not proposing deep packet inspection, for example. The ability to monitor headers and to use lists to stop distributed denial of service attacks might be sufficient,” he said.

Local media has reported that the new Cyber Security Center could be set up by 2015. But Tsuchiya disputed this because setting up such a body would require intensive negotiations among several turf-conscious ministries and agencies anxious not to lose budget or power. The National Police Agency, which is Japan’s primary domestic intelligence agency, has the most to lose in any reshuffle.

“At the moment, the Cyber Security Center is just a proposal on paper. But it’s a significant step forward just by the fact that it has been written,” Tsuchiya said.

NISC also recommends Japan introduce updated, focused legislation to define and punish Cyber espionage and Cyber crime.

At the moment data protection laws only cover civil servants and even those only impose relatively light punishments, for example, fines of ¥500,000 yen ($5,000) or a year in jail, and are wholly inadequate, lack scope and are badly dated, Tsuchiya said.

“The government’s main priority so far has been setting up the National Security Council. The Abe administration may try to draw up legislation in the summer. After that, there could be a lot of opposition, as many remember the bad experiences of the war,” he said.

The NISC’s proposals will be rolled into a final report that will include an implementation roadmap, early in July, Tsuchiya said.

Foreign Journalists Finally Getting the Story

It looks like journalists in Japan are finally catching up with my story of a couple of weeks ago (Japan Plans More Aggressive Defense) for Defense News.

This is a typical example from a freelancer for the South China Morning Post.

There is an interesting piece, No, Japan’s defense plans aren’t scary, which which refers back to a Time story (Japan Looks to Add Offensive Firepower) based, it seems on my original.

The CNN blogs piece is excellent.

Anyway, please remember you read it here and in Defense News first :-)

Cyber Security and Space: Presentation, 29th ISTS

Had a very enjoyable presentation to the 29th ISTS last Friday in the International Conference Hall at the Nagoya International C

onference Center.

Nagoya International Conference CenterThe session was on the Friday [v-2] on Space Utilization and Security and chaired by a person I very much respect, Prof. Hashimoto, who now is deciding Japan’s LV strategy.

Session Date June 7 (Fri) 16:20 – 18:00
Room International Conference Room
Chairpersons Yasuaki Hashimoto (The National Institute for Defense Studies, Japan)
Motoko Uchitomi (JAXA, Japan)
2013-v-06 ( 16:20-16:40 )
US Space Security Cooperation and Its Relevance to the Asia-Pacific.
Unfortunately Fukushima san could not present, but there were really interesting predictions from Kodama Sensei and two from Taiwan that were very interesting.
According Space Utilization and Securityto Kodama, it should not be impossible to move from warning to prediction of earthquakes using satellites, which I found interesting, but not as interesting, frankly as the scathing criticism leveled at the IGS program, which is patently seen as Public Enemy by some sections of Japan’s space science community.
If you have spent decades honing and training excellent academic science that is at the global cutting edge and cannot prize a few extra hundred thousand dollars out of government, meanwhile, politically favored companies, groups and powerful institutions and overall inertia and paranoia means you can spend 10 billion dollars on a bunch of satellites that are patently only marginally useful to Japan’s defense, then you might have a point.
But then again, you have to invest long term to get results and the IGS may well prove strategically important; meanwhile why waste money on satellites when Perky the Pig and his friends are obviously more reliable about giving earthquake warnings?
Saying all that, the Presentation raised a few eyebrows and I am very thankful to Aoki Sensei for suggesting I do it.

“Japan eyes troops to recapture remote islands”

This story intrigued me. According to this Kyodo headline, some remote Japanese islands have been invaded and Japan is looking at some troops to recapture them. Or perhaps I missed something?

It looks like Kyodo has just caught up with my story a few weeks back.

Japan Might Delay F-35 Purchases: Update

Japan wants to buy 42 F-35 joint strike fighters, but the former defense minister believes the annual purchase rate could go down. Here, the seventh Lockheed Martin F-35 takes its first flight in April. (Lockheed Martin)

Japan wants to buy 42 F-35 joint strike fighters, but the former defense minister believes the annual purchase rate could go down. Here, the seventh Lockheed Martin F-35 takes its first flight in April. (Lockheed Martin)

Here is an example of disgraceful hackery: some clowns at “DefenseWorld.net” not only ripped off this story, but changed the story “Japan Forced To Delay F-35 Purchases.”

Here is a story I recently did for Defense News, also available on their website here

TOKYO — Former Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, the architect of Japan’s decision to purchase F-35 joint strike fighters to boost Japan’s deterrence against China, now believes cost pressures caused by the recent plummeting value of the yen could delay the rate of annual purchases for the country’s planned buy of 42 fighters.

In an interview with Defense News, Morimoto, who served as Japan’s defense minister until December and is one of Japan’s leading defense experts and strategists, said he now believes the Defense Ministry may be forced to delay annual purchases of F-35s, should the yen continue to hover around 100 to the US dollar.

“Because this was a decision by the government of Japan to introduce the F-35A, no matter what the price becomes, we cannot change our principle or our policy. We had to introduce the F-35 to replace the F-4. But the problem is … the price is increasing. The question then is how to manage it. I think the MoD has to reshape [the] number of purchases each year.

“The problem is whether we can catch up with the competition for air superiority with Russia and China, so we cannot postpone more than three years. I guess we might postpone one or two years,” he said.

Japan had planned to have all 42 aircraft in its inventory by 2021, and a delay in annual purchases could push that to 2023.

When asked about the possible delay, Defense Ministry spokesman Takaaki Ohno said the complex program is still being worked. “We recognize the F-35A contains the most advanced technology but we also recognize that it is a project that is still under development,” he said. “Whatever happens with the introduction of the F-35, we will continue to maintain the closest contact and cooperation with the US.”

Last year under Morimoto, Japan agreed to import four F-35s in 2017 and locally assemble the remaining 38, which will be built in small lots by two main local prime contractors led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Under a June 29 foreign military sales agreement with the US, Japan committed to purchase the first four at ¥10.2 billion a unit, which was about US $124 million each under the exchange rate at the time of 82 yen to the dollar.

The price was already well over the earlier agreed price of ¥9.9 billion, due to the then-continuing development and testing difficulties the F-35 program was facing. However, over the past six months, the value of the yen has plummeted to around 100 to the dollar.

“This is a very, very serious problem for the Japanese taxpayer,” said defense analyst Shinichi Kiyotani. The problem is compounded by the fact that Japan’s purchasing costs are plagued by small-lot, piecemeal procurement, meaning local production costs can be sometimes double those of US-made counterparts. “People are wondering if Japan can afford it,” Kiyotani said.

Morimoto stressed that the total number of aircraft would remain at 42, but also said if future prices bust budget ceilings set by the Finance Ministry — as they are likely to do if the yen stays so cheap — the MoD could spread out the purchase over several consecutive years.

The MoD has committed to purchasing the first 10 units in tranches of four, two and four, he said. After that, “if the price is still higher, the Ministry of Finance will be relatively reluctant to purchase the planes. We can’t change the basic plan for the first two or three tranches,” so the changes will come later, he said.

Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at US-based think tank Teal Group, anticipated potential problems because the more fighters are built in Japan, the more costs are likely to rise.

“[S]tanding up a Japan Final Assembly and Check Out [organization] … would greatly increase costs, a factor that has hobbled generations of Japanese fighter procurement programs and might mean a gap in firming up details, as Japan decided how much equipment would be built in country,” Aboulafia said. “It’s quite possible that the Japanese government hasn’t decided what it’s willing to pay for in terms of fighter manufacturing and industrial sovereignty.”

Paradoxically, while the longer-term future of Japan’s F-35A buy now looks more hazy, the overall stabilization of the F-35 program means delivery of the initial four is on schedule for 2017, sources said. Further, Japan is already making moves to recalibrate the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) to accommodate them.

Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president of program integration, earlier told Defense News that negotiations with Japanese partners were progressing and both sides were looking to hit the 2017 target delivery date.

In anticipation, the MoD has already begun preparations to receive the planes, Ohno said earlier. These include budgeting ¥29.9 billion this year for purchasing the first two units and ¥83 billion for initial costs to help industry set up plants and facilities to build various parts of the planes.

The MoD is spending an additional ¥21.1 billion for training equipment and expenses to start rebuilding Misawa Air Base in the northern part of Honshu.

Meanwhile, this year the MoD has begun beefing up defense and deterrence of Japan’s far-flung Nansei Shoto, or southern island chain, which stretches southwest of Okinawa to within 70 miles of Taiwan.

The MoD has begun reinforcing the 20 F-15J/DJ fighters with a further squadron in 2015. The MoD has budgeted ¥3.4 billion on facilities construction at the JASDF’s Naha Air Base and invested an initial ¥50 million to study how it should improve airborne radar, deployment and logistics issues to accommodate the move, Ohno said.

Finally, the MoD is spending ¥12.2 billion to upgrade both its F-15s and F-2s in response to what the MoD calls the need to “adapt to the modernization of the aerial combat capabilities of neighboring countries.”

This year, six F-15s and an undisclosed number of F-2s will get improved radars, a medium-range air-to-air missile and modernized data systems, Ohno said.

Japan’s Defense Plans: Into the Mass Media


Nice to see the mass media outside Japan finally picking up on my “scoop” (which is journalist jargon for not attending a presser (now rebranded as “news conferences”) and actually talking to people.

Anyway, Time  (Japan Looks to Add Offensive Firepower) and The Diplomat ( Japan Mulls a Preemptive Strike Capability) picking up on my story about Japan’s plans for a new, more muscular defense strategy.

Which is great to see, because it’s actually really important, rather than a crisis or confrontation story on Japan manufactured by the local media.

Actually of course, the story itself is old, as this has been openly posited by Japan for at least a decade, and Japan’s ability to be a truly useful partner to the U.S. really started to come into focus as early as the late 1970s, which lead to the original “Three Arrows” Mitsuya policy. My favorite Three Arrows however comes from 乱.

Since then, in some ways, what is happening now to Japanese defense posture is catching up with the realities of the arc of insecurity that Japan faces, and its paramount need to service the Japan-U.S. Alliance, with the whole thing run through the post Cold War wormhole.

Japan Drafting Laws for a US-style National Security Council

Here is a quick story I got out last week, as posted on Defense News.

I’m going to be speaking to Satoshi Morimoto, who is one of the primary architects of the move, and hopefully one other panel member at the 国家安全保障会議の創設に関する有識者会議 this week to find out more.

Meanwhile an outline of the final recommendations can be found here. See the slides below as well.

Simplified lines of authority and information flow for the NSC

Simplified lines of authority and information flow for the NSC

TOKYO — The Japanese government will move as early as next week to propose legislation to establish a National Security Council (NSC) headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to a source familiar with the issue.

“The Abe administration is moving to submit legislation to the [Japanese national] Diet to form the NSC maybe as early as next Friday [June 7], or failing that, in the following week,” the source said.

The move follows the sixth and final meeting on May 28 of a panel of experts called the Advisory Council on the Establishment of a National Security Council. The panel consists of former high-ranking defense officials, academics and representatives from think thanks and was set up by Abe in February to hammer out the structure and position powers of the NSC.

According to the May 28 final report, laws will be drafted to establish two bodies designed to speed up Japan’s ability to respond to security issues, particularly crisis situations, by enhancing the flow of information to an executive body, the NSC, which will be chaired by the prime minister.

The NSC will consist of the prime minister, the chief cabinet secretary, and the foreign and defense secretaries, and will assume executive authority for both emergency and strategic security issues.

Top-level security issues are currently controlled by the nine-member Security Council of Japan. A second body, an ad hoc Ministers Emergency Council, will be established to deal more swiftly with emergency situations and disasters.

How the NSC will fit in with extant national security bodies in Japan

How the NSC will fit in with extant national security bodies in Japan

The Security Council has been the main venue to discuss important national defense issues, but has been seen as unwieldy and riddled with factionalism between competing ministries.

Recently, the government faced widespread criticism in Japan for responding slowly to several recent emergency situations. For example, this January, the government was slow to respond after a People’s Republic of China Navy ship locked its fire-control radar onto a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel in ongoing tensions between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu in China, located between Japan, Taiwan and China in the East China Sea.

Advisory Council panel member Masashi Nishihara, who is president of the Research Institute for Peace and Security think thank, declined comment on the upcoming legislation, citing restrictions placed on council members regarding talking to the media.

Towards the H-3: Update

H-2A successor

Space News kindly published a version of my story on the H-3 last week. I’ve done the usual and pasted a version into this blog.

There is also a story by the ever excellent Warren Ferster on the Epsilon based on a JAXA presser. Please see this blog for more background on the Epsilon, or go to the new, vastly improved Space News website.

We can expect more light to be shone on this during June when the ONSP subcommittee makes its final recommendations. Meanwhile the Yomiuri and Asahi have some more information and perspective on the issue.

Our view in In Defense of Japan is that the H-series is a technology development program and while it may arouse screams of indignation and anger to say it, to put it bluntly, money will always be found to develop technologies that give Japan options. As, fundamentally, Saadia and I argue that Japan’s space program has always been basically, when you remove all the dressing, a dual-use strategic technology development program, then reasons to develop the H-3 will always be found.

As made plain by Dick Samuels and Mike Green, under nationalists such as Tomifumi Godai and in an era of rampant technonationalism and kokusanka, there were compelling reasons to develop the H-2. Japan wanted and needed to build a sophisticated, liquid fueled, highly efficient two-stage medium launch vehicle to cement its international reputation as part of the advanced spacefaring club. Remember, when the H-2 was envisaged over 20 years ago, few saw the impending “lost decade.”

Japan’s space program under NASDA was relatively awash with money, with investments made or planned  into all sorts of challenging dual-use precursor technologies including ETS-7 (on orbit ASAT demonstration) OICETS/ Kirari (laser communications), reconnaissance/ spy  satellites ICBM prototypes (M-V, J-1), reentry (OREX, USERS SEM) SIGINT (ETS-8), global strike (HYFLEX, HOPE) etc. Some highly ambitious programs that emerged last decade, have disappeared, for example HiMEOS and Smartsat-1.

On the other hand, ALSET looks as if it could make it.

これまでの基幹ロケットの評価と今後の在り方について 2013 年 4 月 24 日 宇宙輸送システム部会 委員 三菱重工業株式会社 代表取締役常務執行役員 航空宇宙事業本部長 鯨井 洋

2013 年 4 月 24 日
宇宙輸送システム部会 委員
三菱重工業株式会社 代表取締役常務執行役員
鯨井 洋

Let’s not forget the H-2 very nearly made it to commercial viability but was fatally holed by the surging yen as well as dodgy turbopumps. So then money was found for the H-2A to solve the problem (half the costs, boost the payload) …but as we argue in In Defense of Japan, whether or not the H-2A really made it was not the issue. Could the program be justified in terms of a technology development program to the MoF. The peanuts in terms of cost involved in developing the H-2A compared to the cost of major launch vehicle systems by other advanced democracies (lets just name the Ariane 5) meant yes.

And now the cycle starts again. So how will the H-3 be sold to the MoF under the rubric of Japan’s latest stated space policy?

Sure, as something that will be commercially viable. Whether or not MHI and JAXA can actually achieve this is, we contend, strategically, a mute question. If and when the H-3 doesn’t make it commercially, MHI and Japan will have at least invested in developing a new level of excellent technologies that will secure Japan’s independent launch vehicle capabilities and provide jobs, technology and investment in its aerospace sector. Incidentally, the H-3 is now being sold by MHI as “catchup” again, as the slide above shows.

Sure, the same old cycle of vituperation and lashing will follow in the Japanese media if or when the H-3 fails to make the grade commercially, but the more strategic goals of “keeping/ catching up” will have been met.

Japan Eyes More Muscular Defense

Here is this week’s front page news from Japan for Defense News based on the latest versions of the LDP’s 新「防衛計画の大綱」策定に係る提言.

Japan Plans More Aggressive DefenseThe key points for me were the mixed messages I picked up from both U.S. and Japanese interlocutors. Most see sense in Japan’s continued, measured buildup as part of a decades-long process together with constitutional revision to (a) shed Japan of the contradictions that have built up over Article 9 vs. the fact that Japan has built up, often, but not exclusively following U.S. requests, a highly capable but incomplete military and (b) recognize that there is nothing wrong with a carefully crafted constitutional right to collective defense (with an update badly needed now that Japan is building out its BMD, particularly, but not exclusively for SM3-Block IIA, cruise missile and UAV-killing SM-6, and when Japan acquires E-2D assets).

But on the other hand, there is a great deal of angst involved, particularly over the issue of preemptive strike capability. Actually this issue, as I try to point out, isn’t new. The idea that Japan should consider mid-air refueling first openly stated during the Koizumi administration and the grounds for Japan hitting North Korean missile sites as laid out by former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba, are a decade old.

There is a sense that the LDP assumes, and unthinkingly projects, that it, under Shinzo Abe, a grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, that is the natural party of leadership, and that now that the reigns of power are back where they should be, so the LDP has to contrast itself with the DPJ. This seems to have so many things wrong with it. The U.S. was not particularly unhappy with the previous administration, which, apart from the basing issue, was basically going the same direction as the LDP would have anyway. Second, the LDP at least says publicly that it realizes it was not elected to pursue Abe’s nationalist agenda, but given a (…it always seems a last chance saloon) opportunity by the electorate to try to do something, anything to get the economy going. Any attempt to cast its DPJ predecessor as weak on defense issues is ridiculous.  And the last time Abe tried to foist his political and constitutional agenda on Japan, he was more or less forced out, and his agenda quietly abandoned by his successors.

But the U.S. is alarmed, by what might be called the current administration’s handling of its public perception. Look below to the mealy mouthed  reaction by Ishiba, for example, to the recent comments by Toru Hashimoto on sex slaves, which may have become an albatross or an unintentional SIW that could make him irrelevant. More disturbing is the lack of gross emotional intelligence of it all. The idea that “everyone did it” isn’t really a move forward.

The bottom line is, as Japan assumes a more normal defense posture, does it want to create more stability or less stability in the region? Japan needs to recalibrate its constitution and military to support the U.S.-Japan alliance and this means proceeding with the requisite diplomatic and emotional intelligence.

Mr. Abe has been trying, one might say, very trying. Even pro-Japan, pro-Alliance interlocutors are saying they need Mr. Abe to wake up.


Another gaffe by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

And from what we see and we read, the Abe administration is making a pig’s ear out of it.

Anyway, here is the full article:

Japan Eyes More Muscular Defense

TOKYO After almost seven decades of maintaining a limited defense posture, Japan should develop its amphibious and pre-emptive strike capability while bolstering sea- and ground-based ballistic-missile defenses, according to policy proposals by the country’s ruling party.

The proposals, obtained by Defense News and released to a select group last week ahead of widespread distribution, were drawn up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). They also call for Japan to beef up its space-based early warning systems and invest in cyber defense.

The proposals were generated by several internal LDP committees led by former LDP Defense Ministers Shigeru Ishiba and Gen Nakatani, and therefore carry considerable weight, according to Narushige Michishita, director of the Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies here.

“They’re important,” he said.

The recommendations will feed into policy, spending and acquisition priorities for Japan’s next five-year Mid-Term Defense Plan, which is being crafted by the Defense Ministry and will be published by December.

They also come as the LDP administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to revise Article 9 of Japan’s constitution to delete provisions that prohibit Japan from using “war as a sovereign right of the nation” and maintaining “war potential,” and replace them with the right to hold a “National Defense Force” under the prime minister as commander in chief.

The LDP’s policy proposals do not name weapon systems or suggest budgets, and are deliberately more vague than similar proposals drawn up by the LDP in 2009, just before the party suffered a disastrous electoral defeat to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

“The LDP was not in power then [in 2009],” and so could be more direct, Michishita said.

The 2009 proposals openly discussed Japan acquiring, for example, the Boeing KC-46 tanker refueling plane as a step toward developing pre-emptive strike capability, such as knocking out fueled North Korean missiles. They also suggested adding the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to Japan’s ship-based Aegis and ground-based Patriot systems.

Fast forward four years, and the proposals come from a resurrected LDP that delivered an even bigger electoral defeat to the DPJ last December. This time around, the language is more cautious because each word has more value.

While they carefully avoid all reference to Japan’s major sources of concern — China and North Korea — the proposals open intriguing possibilities over the extent to which Japan will strengthen its defense posture. In this context, Japanese defense planners are considering a number of options for each of the force enhancements, according to analysts and people familiar with the LDP’s discussions.

Most interesting and controversial is the proposed discussion of pre-emptive strike capability, which would require Japan to acquire Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), long-range refueling capability for its nascent F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and/or a naval platform for the F-35B jump jet, should Japan opt to purchase that variant.

The proposals make no mention of the KC-46 this time around. The Air Self-Defense Force, meanwhile, has steadily equipped its fleet of Mitsubishi F-2 multirole fighters with JDAMS. It is thought that the two 19,500-ton 22DDH-class helicopter destroyers planned for the Maritime Self-Defense Force can be converted to carry the F-35B.

In 2003, before Japan had deployed its Aegis SM-3 and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) ballistic-missile defense (BMD) systems, then-Defense Minister Ishiba made it clear that Japan could launch a strike against a missile base in North Korea in specific sets of circumstances.

For example, a strike could take place if there was evidence the missiles were fueled and aimed at Japan, and Japan had no other credible means of defense, Michishita said.

But now Japan is steadily building out its BMD systems to intercept North Korea’s longer-range Unha and Musudan mobile intermediate-range ballistic missiles, so such a strike would be potentially unconstitutional, he said.

Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said he found recent talk of Japan bolstering its pre-emptive strike capability worrying.

“CSIS has been conducting discussions on the issue of pre-emptive strike for six years, and in recent months, we have seen resumption of calls to develop this capability resurface. I am concerned about the proliferation of these capabilities because of the potentially destabilizing consequences,” he said.

Japan probably won’t develop a separate marine corps, but it will more likely reinforce its amphibious capability, largely based on the Western Infantry Regiment of the Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) that trained in amphibious warfare as part of the Iron Fist exercises with the US Marine Corps in California, analysts say.

Paul Giarra, president of US-based consulting firm Global Strategies & Transformation, said the language of the policy proposal opens the possibility of the GSDF equipping one or perhaps two regiments with advanced capabilities, including up to four dozen amphibious landing vehicles over the next five years, beyond the four AAV-7A1S vehicles already planned, and a suitable number of Bell-Boeing V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft.

“I read it more as the [Japan Self-Defense Forces] with some improved amphibious capabilities like vehicles and tilt-rotor aircraft. That is potentially a significant development, but the LDP does not look like it wants to go the whole hog on a marine corps,” said Christopher Hughes, professor of international politics and Japanese studies at Britain’s University of Warwick.

Japan is considering several options to boost its BMD portfolio, consisting of four Kongo-class destroyers and two larger Atago-class Aegis cruisers, and PAC-3 units. While the 2009 version of the proposals specifically mentions purchasing THAAD and an “advanced” version of the PAC-3, the new version recommends strengthening land-based BMD, leaving Japan a choice between purchasing either THAAD or the Aegis Ashore land-based version of the Aegis system, and the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) system for last-ditch interdiction.

Giarra said deploying the PAC-3 MSE would complement Aegis Ashore, which Japan has shown an interest in purchasing to the tune of one or two 24-missile interceptor batteries, a number that could increase. In this case, purchasing THAAD systems might be too much of an overlap of similar capabilities, he suggested.

Japanese defense planners see cruise missiles in general and China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile in particular as growing threats. This means that on top of the planned upgrades to employ the SM-3 Block IIA Aegis system when it becomes available, Japan also is considering purchasing the extended-range anti-air warfare RIM-174 missile.

“Cruise missile defense is becoming as important to Japan as ballistic-missile defense,” Michishita said.

Hughes said the proposals face many roadblocks, including opposition from more dovish LDP members and the MoD’s own panel scheduled to meet in January, which may have its own priorities. Last but not least is the Ministry of Finance, which will be unwilling to raise the defense budget under any circumstances.

“[But] if Abe/the LDP can pull all this off, then it will be very radical indeed,” Hughes said.

Regional Concerns

Japan’s moves will likely be welcomed across a region concerned about China’s aggressive territorial claims.

“Japan and the Philippines have a strained history, but the Filipinos are for a stronger Japan because Tokyo is helping train its Coast Guard,” Giarra said. “South Korea is less dependent on Japan and tensions run deeper, so it’s much less willing to go along with it.”

Tensions soared last week after Osaka’s mayor said forced prostitution in occupied nations was a military necessity for invading Japanese forces, prompting a South Korean newspaper to write that US atomic attacks on Japan were “divine punishment” for Tokyo’s brutality.

Some in Asia and Washington worry Japan’s nationalist leader believes Japanese forces did nothing wrong during World War II.

“Passive support for Japan will hold unless Japanese behavior changes,” Giarra added. “The question is whether Japanese officials can resist the temptation to undo what they believe were unnecessary apologies for wartime actions they don’t believe were wrong.

“The feeling of being wronged is as powerful in Japan as it is the other way around in Korea, Philippines, Indonesia . . . Germany dealt with its past and continues to do so, but Japan suppressed the issue, creating pent up pressure, and when it vents, it could change how this buildup is seen.”

Email: pkallender@defensenews.com.

A Different Kind of Japanese Island Dispute…

Typhoon in a Teacup?

Not exactly.

This is interesting. As my esteemed friends at Japan Security Watch (“Mod Requests Funds for Yonaguni Base”) and Corey Wallace know all too well…just about a week after I wrote this story, China started laying claim to Okinawa- as was predicted in the article. Read on!

…Here is story that I recently wrote for Defense News that has been “under the radar” of the gaijin press here (not part of what’s officially what’s regarded as important “news” I suppose) but is important because everyone knows that in international law “boots on the rock,” so to speak, goes a “long way” in term of  territorial claims (see graphic in story below, as  DN helpfully added).

The most important part of the story for me was at the end, when Prof. Gabe kindly pointed out the most substantial strategic reason for putting a garrison on Yonaguni was to send a message to China, whose next step, he said, was to go lay claim to the Ryuku islands. Here is the  article I filed and then then the cut portion to follow, which also included comments by Corey:

     Yonaguni Story“Yonaguni citizens have bifurcated into two streams of opinion following the 2010 Senkakus incident,” said Corey Wallace, Lecturer at the University of Auckland, who provides analysis of Japanese security issues at the Japan Security Watch website.

 “Some see the increasing presence of Chinese ships and the potential for conflict as requiring some kind of presence. But the (GSDF) monitoring unit’s proximity to the Senkakus means it could become a target,” leading to the deepening split in islander opinion, Wallace said.

  That split has left Mayor Hokama in a difficult situation, according to McCormack, because while Hokama originally supported the GSDF deployment for its perceived economic boost, recent growing opposition may now affect his chances of reelection- suggesting more old-fashioned political motives for the sudden demand.

  At the same time, the deployment has increasingly garnished more national political significance for the conservative Abe administration, which is seeking to provide a more robust stance to counter what it sees as Chinese expansionism, said Masaaki Gabe, professor of International Relations and the director of the International Institute for Okinawan Studies at the University of the Ryukyus.

 At one level it’s all about the money, Gabe said. But the Yonaguni issue has become both symbolically and strategically important. The deployment has become a poster child of the Abe administration’s stronger stance against China, which is a combination of appealing to and building on popular patriotic sentiment while reinforcing Japan’s military both symbolically and in reality against what is now publicly acknowledged by Japanese political and defense elites as the growing threat of China.

  Since assuming power late last year, the Abe administration has been the first Japanese government in 11 years to raise defense spending, albeit only 0.8%. Beefing up Japan’s defense of its South East island chain and deterring potential Chinese aggression is now a strategic priority.

  First, while the deployment of troops and radar station is presently strategically not a major component of Japan’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities, which are now a strategic priority for the MoD, forward basing facilities provides options to build out capability later.

  But more importantly perhaps, boots on Yonaguni anticipate a future hand in China’s diplomatic poker game if and when it seeks to start pressing historical claims to sovereignty over the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom, which is present day Okinawa, of which Yonaguni is the most eastern island. 

 “This is part of Japan justifying its territorial sovereignty. In a future stage, China will assert its claims to Okinawa,” and the deployment to Yonaguni, which has never based Japanese troops before, is a step in forestalling this, Gabe said.

  In light of this, Gabe sees the current spat as sorting itself out in due course, mainly because too much is at stake for the MoD and the island, which will stand to loose out much more financially in the longer run should the deployment be abandoned.

Almost as soon as he said it to me, China, enter stage right (or from the left, if you will), went ahead the week after the article was published and staked its claim to the Ryukus.

Did the Foreign Ministry read my article and decide to give it the ol’ Communist try?

Well no, the  was this preplanned according to whatever schedule Beijing has in its largely successful media strategy (read psychological warfare) to make Japan out to be the bad guy (still now) in the hood.

First some think tank floats the idea publicly, then the Foreign Ministry does its thing, then Luo Yuan puts his own footprint into the issue.


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