Japan Institute for National Fundamentals
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Speaking out

Fumio Ota

【#464】Budget Request Indicates Low Defense Consciousness

Fumio Ota / 2017.09.06 (Wed)


September 4, 2017

     Japan’s defense budget request for fiscal 2018 hit a record 5.25 trillion yen. However, the past trend in a Ministry of Defense budget request line graph shows that the request represents just a return to the fiscal 2002 budget level after a slow increase from fiscal 2013 following a 10-year consecutive fall from fiscal 2003 to 2012. In a quick response to the Japanese defense budget request, the Chinese Foreign Ministry described the record high request as worthy of vigilance. However, China has no reason to condemn Japan’s defense budget because China sustained double-digit annual growth in defense spending almost consistently over a quarter century from 1989 to 2015.

No research on enemy base attack
     Current Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera chaired a team of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Research Commission on Security, which recommended the government late last March to have capabilities to attack enemy bases. Nevertheless, the latest defense budget request, though including research and study on future ballistic missile intercept systems, fails to call for research and study on attacks on enemy bases, which have been described as constitutional in government responses at the Diet deliberations.
     A North Korean Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which flew over Japan on August 29, was equipped with a single warhead. However, a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which was launched in July with a lofted trajectory into Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Sea of Japan, had a multiple reentry vehicle (MRV) technology of the Pakistani Ababeel ballistic missile. If North Korea makes progress in developing the MRV technology in addition to capabilities for saturation attacks, it will become even more difficult to intercept North Korean missiles.
     On September 3, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear explosion test. If North Korea acquires capabilities to conduct a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland, it will represent a serious situation for Japan that plans to complete defense depending on U.S. nuclear deterrence. The situation is about to come. What would happen if Japan fails to start research and study now on its capabilities to attack enemy bases?

Japan’s potential ability to install cruise missiles
     As the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis destroyers, like those of U.S. Navy, are equipped with the Mk-41 vertical launching system, the Japanese Aegis destroyers, as well as the Aegis Ashore system included in the latest Japanese budget request, have potential to install Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles. Adding Mk-14 canisters for Tomahawk and installing software for Tomahawk launch into the command and control system enable Tomahawk attacks.
     Attacking enemy bases is one of the means of legitimate self-defense. Nevertheless, the exclusively defense-oriented policy derived from the current Japanese constitution prevents Japan from having capabilities to implement the justifiable defense means. Despite the recent severe security environment, the government has failed to revise the policy, indicating a decline in defense consciousness among not only the people but also politicians.
     The Prime Minister’s Office apparently has been aware of signs of North Korea’s plan to fire the Hwasong-12 missile on August 29. It is thought to have received relevant intelligence from allies thanks to the Secret Protection Act and the security-related legislation that made possible Japan’s due contributions through limited exercise of collective self-defense rights. I would like to point out the lack of defense consciousness on the side of news media such as the Asahi Shimbun newspaper as well as opposition parties that opposed those legislations.

Fumio Ota is a JINF Planning Committee Member and retired Vice Admiral of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.