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Japan: Govt to Revise Defense Policy Guidelines
Source: yomiuri.co.jp
Source Date: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Country: Japan
Created: Jan 29, 2013

The government decided Friday to review the 2010 National Defense Program Guidelines to reinforce the Self-Defense Forces, both in terms of equipment and personnel, to respond to China's intrusions into Japan's territory around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

At a regular Cabinet meeting that morning, the government agreed to review the guidelines created by the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration and scrap the medium-term defense buildup plan for fiscal 2011 to 2015, which was based on the defense guidelines.

The revised guidelines will be completed within the year. The government is aiming to work out the basic gist of the revised guidelines before the House of Councillors election this summer, after taking into consideration the opinions of experts and scholars, government sources said.

The review is necessary to strengthen the SDF's powers to respond to China's military expansion and naval demonstrations by government surveillance ships, as well North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, the sources said.

The new guidelines will clearly stipulate a stronger SDF in terms of equipment and personnel.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera instructed his ministry to launch a committee to compile the new guidelines with Akinori Eto, senior vice defense minister, as its chair.

The committee will aim to submit an interim report in late June.

The main focus for discussions will be the reinforcement of defense capability around the Senkaku Islands, where Chinese ships and planes are repeatedly violating Japan's airspace and territorial waters. Improvement of the landing abilities of the Ground Self-Defense Force will also be studied, with an eye to potential operations to regain control of remote islands.

Other topics include the defense of areas around the Nansei Islands that stretch from Kagoshima Prefecture to Okinawa Prefecture, how to handle natural disasters, Japan-U.S. defense cooperation and expanded participation in U.N. peacekeeping activities.

The current guidelines stipulate cuts in the number of GSDF personnel due to the government's fiscal difficulties. They also emphasize the development of a "dynamic defense force" that would entail the rapid, seamless deployment of SDF units to respond to contingencies.

Based on this concept, both the Japanese and U.S. governments have been conducting warning and surveillance activities and exercises. Whether to include the revision of the dynamic defense concept in the new guidelines will be another focus of discussions.

Furthermore, the government plans to increase defense spending in fiscal 2013, which has been cut for 10 years in a row. It will decide on a defense buildup plan for fiscal 2013 to be followed by a new medium-term plan for five years from fiscal 2014, according to the sources.

The first National Defense Program Guidelines were compiled in 1976. The document was based the "basic defense force concept," which calls for the minimum defense capability necessary.

The 1995 guidelines, released after the end of the Cold War era, called for reducing the nation's defense capabilities.

The 2004 guidelines stipulated "multifunctional, flexible and effective defense forces," developed in consideration of North Korea's missile development and threats of terrorism.
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