Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoshiko Sakurai

【#471】Party of Hope Looks Liberal-oriented

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2017.10.05 (Thu)

October 2, 2017

     “I would not be surprised to see anything happen over the North Korean issue if U.S. military get prepared after U.S. President Donald Trump ends his Asian tour in mid-November,” said a senior government official in his analysis of the present situation.
     Japan and the Far East are amid growing tensions. Japan’s new cabinet to be formed after the October 22 general election of the House of Representatives will have to address a contingency in North Korea, China’s ambition and changes in U.S. policy on Japan and enhance defense power physically and legislatively.

Approaching contingency in North Korea
     Even if a contingency comes now, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces cannot land on North Korea and rescue abducted Japanese citizens because present law imposes three conditions on the SDF for such operation: (1) the SDF has to obtain approval from the country concerned (North Korea), (2) the country concerned has to be in peace and (3) the SDF has to cooperate with the military of the country concerned.
     Upon a North Korean contingency, 50,000 to 300,000 refugees are expected to come from South and North Korea to Japan’s northern Kyushu region as well as Tottori, Shimane, Fukui, Niigata and other prefectures on the Sea of Japan coast. Police alone may fail to respond to such situation. The Ground SDF will have to play a key role in securing social safety by allowing refugees to land on Japan tentatively, preparing their food, clothing and housing and taking measures against infectious diseases. Given that dangerous persons could be among refugees, their background checks will be indispensable. If the GSDF with only 140,000 members undertakes these missions, it may fail to fulfill its primary national defense missions.
     Japan’s defense is less than secure even without such refugee inflow. “Japan cannot detect North Korea’s missile firing. Japan alone can detect missiles only when they approach the sky over the country. It may be too late,” said Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on September 8.
     Two Aegis Ashore systems for ground deployment to enhance missile defense would be able to defend the whole of Japan. However, three years will be taken to operationally deploy them.
     In March 2017, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party recommended the government to possess enemy base attacking capabilities. However, Japan does not possess equipment to locate enemy bases, annihilate radar for their defense or attack them with precision guided missiles. No plan exists to have such necessary equipment. Changing the vulnerable defense arrangements depending heavily on the United States through bilateral cooperation serves both Japanese and U.S. national interests.

Defense should be key issue for coming election
     The next administration, therefore, should aim at the deletion of Paragraph 2 (for not possessing any war potential) of the constitution’s Article 9 in the near future and shift away from the exclusively defensive posture. As enemy base attacking capabilities are constitutional even at present, they should be introduced immediately.
     The coming election is to choose a government led by the LDP of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe or the Party of Hope just created by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. At issue in the election is defense.
     The Party of Hope, even after excluding leftists from the defunct Democratic Party, still reflects the liberal orientation of the Democratic Party. I remember the then Democratic Party of Japan administration’s response to the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. None expected any perfect response to the unprecedented disaster. However, senior officials in the then DPJ administration who have now become key members in the new Party of Hope set the allowable radiation exposure at 1 millisievert or less per year. The establishment of the too unscientific, strict standard has impeded the reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture that hosts a nuclear power station plagued with a serious accident due to the devastating tsunami following the earthquake.
     Democratic Party lawmakers had demanded the abolition of national security legislation enacted under the Abe government up until September 1, when they elected the new party leader. Now in the Party of Hope, they say the legislation is necessary. I doubt if we can trust them.

Yoshiko Sakurai is President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.