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Threats Japan Presses on the Military Budget

"White Paper on Defense" named the main opponents of the country

19 August in Japan was unveiled "White Paper on Defense" for 2018 year. This annual document, issued by the Ministry of Defense of the country, underlies the development of Japan's military strategy for the foreseeable future. It analyzes the situation in the sphere of international security, identifies the main challenges and threats to national security, outlines ways and means to ensure it. The present issue of the White Paper emphasizes the analysis of the regional situation. His conclusions will be the basis for the development of the future defense potential of the country.

Threats Japan Presses on the Military Budget
Photo: Reuters

Valery Kistanov

Head of the Center for Japanese Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies
The main external threats to Japan in the security field in the book are named by name North Korea and China. It emphasizes that North Korea's nuclear and missile development represents an "unprecedentedly serious and imminent threat" to Japan's security. In particular, attention is drawn to the fact that last year Pyongyang repeatedly launched rockets and conducted the sixth test of nuclear weapons.

However, this year North Korea abstained, as the newspaper writes, from military provocations, thereby softening international tension. Nevertheless, according to Japanese military analysts, Pyongyang's policy of abandoning nuclear and missile programs remains questionable even after the US summit - North Korea in June this year. They express fears that the easing of tension will not be long. The White Paper predicts the possibility of North Korea's resumption of so-called "provocative actions" if the country "presumptuously and erroneously" believes that it has become a means of strategic deterrence of the United States.

The book points to the fact that North Korea deployed hundreds of ballistic missiles in the range of which Japan is located. In this regard, the document did not change its previous assessment of the threat emanating from Pyongyang. Therefore, Japanese military experts point out, for Japan, it is important to engage in systematic strengthening of its anti-missile defense.

As for China, which is rapidly expanding its military potential, the White Paper says that it causes "a serious concern of the international community in terms of security." Referring to the fact that in January of this year a Chinese submarine was discovered in a submerged position in the zone adjacent to the Senkaku Islands, which the PRC disputes with Japan, calling it the Diaoyu Islands, the report points to "a unilateral escalation of China's military activities".

The authors of the White Paper are concerned about the fact that China has recently subordinated its coast guard to the Ministry of Defense. They explain this fact by the fact that the country's navy is building up its capabilities, referring to potential landing operations on the Senkaku Islands and Taiwan. To ensure that the Nansai islands, which include Senkaku, did not turn into a "vacuum zone" from the point of view of defense, the document says, it is necessary to speed up the deployment of units that are entrusted "to remain vigilant and to monitor the islands." These functions Japan is going to assign to the newly created amphibious assault brigade, whose main task will be to defeat the enemy from remote islands if they are captured by a foreign armed unit.

The Ministry of Defense of Japan is considering the possibility of delivering the said brigade to such remote islands by transport aircraft with a vertical takeoff of the American production of Osprey. The Ministry of Defense and the administration of the Saga prefecture in the south of Japan have already agreed on the location of these convertoplanes at the airport of the prefecture. True, the military department has yet to convince the need for this step of the local fishermen and other categories of people who are opposed to the deployment of aircraft in the prefecture in connection with the private accidents of these aircraft.

It should be specially noted that the White Paper draws attention to the vital need to ensure the use of new areas of national security, such as cyberspace and outer space. Otherwise there are risks that there will be a situation in which the communication functions of satellites will be hampered by cyberattacks. This, in turn, will negatively affect the activities of the armed forces of the country.

Announced 31 August in Japan, the military budget for the 2019 fiscal year (beginning 1 April) are designed in practice to implement the main provisions of the White Paper on Defense for 2018 year. The budget was a record for the entire history of the country. The Ministry of Defense requires an increase in defense spending by 2,1% - to 5,3 trillion yen ($ 48 billion) compared to the previous year. If the notes are approved by the parliament, then this will be the seventh consecutive annual increase in military spending during the period in which the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held office.

True, the proposed defense budget still needs to be carefully studied by officials of the Ministry of Finance who can try to reduce the increase in military spending in order to guarantee the necessary funds for Japan's growing spending on health and social security.

The largest proposed expenditure in the military budget will be associated with missile defense. Here, in particular, the ministry is requesting 235 billion yen for two new Aegis Ashore ground-based missile systems, built by the American concern Lockheed Martin Corp. It should be emphasized that it is these complexes that cause Moscow's serious concern, since, as Russian experts believe, they will become part of the US global missile defense, aimed at Russia. This concern was expressed by the Russian side at the Russian-Japanese talks held in late July in Moscow in the "two plus two" format with the participation of the foreign and defense ministers of Russia and Japan.

The Japanese military also wants to obtain funds for the purchase of long-range interceptor missiles Raytheon Co SM-3, designed to intercept enemy missiles in space, and also to improve the range and accuracy of its PAC-3 missile batteries, which are the last ABM line.

Other major acquisitions include six Lockheed Martin F-35 invisible fighter aircraft for 91,6 billion Yen and two E-2D Hawkeye early warning patrol aircraft built by Northrop Grumman. Japan's Marine Self-Defense Forces also want to get funding for the construction of two new destroyers and a submarine worth 171 billion Yen.

Procurement of US equipment can help Tokyo ease trade frictions with Washington, as US President Donald Trump demands Japan to expand the import of US goods, including military equipment, threatening to introduce tariffs on Japanese car imports to reduce trade imbalances with Tokyo. Apparently, it is no accident that the budget request of the Ministry of Defense of Japan for the 2018 fiscal year is published on the eve of a possible meeting between Abe and Trump in September, when the Japanese leader is expected to attend the United Nations General Session in New York.

However, the significant strengthening of Japan's military potential causes great caution in the countries of the region, primarily in the PRC. The Chinese Xinhua News Agency, commenting on the latest issue of the Japanese White Paper on Defense, believes that the publication continues to exaggerate the security issue in Japan, thereby paving the way for strengthening its army and developing the Abe Shinzo Cabinet by the end of the year a new "National Defense Program".

This program determines the development of the country's armed forces for five years. The commentary emphasizes that while the White Paper approved the denuclearization statement made by Pyongyang at the US and North Korean summit, but at the same time it says that the security situation around Japan remains serious and that the DPRK is "an unprecedented and topical threat for Japan. "

"Xinhua" criticizes the "White Book" for the exaggeration of the so-called "Chinese threat", calling irresponsible its statements about the conventional military operations of the PRC and its current defense construction. The pages of the book, the agency believes, arbitrarily distort the objectives of patrolling the waters of the Diaoyu Islands Islands by China's sea vessels and their legal activities. It also rejects the assertion that China allegedly "unilaterally" is building up military activities near Japan.

As for our country, in the official documents of Japan, including the annual "White Book on Defense", with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the term "Soviet threat" disappeared. The above-mentioned term "Chinese threat" came to replace him. Russia is no longer considered Tokyo as one of the main military adversaries. And given the generally favorable atmosphere in bilateral relations that has developed in recent years, the issue of the "White Paper" for 2018 speaks about the need for exchanges in the field of defense with Russia to prevent unforeseen situations and unnecessary friction. "Through the Japan-Russia exchanges in the field of defense, it is important to strengthen the relations of trust with Russia as an important player in ensuring the security of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as an important neighbor of our country," the Book says.

Although Japan agrees with the position of the G7 (G7) on the situation with Ukraine, it is noted in the document that in order to "avoid unforeseen situations and unnecessary friction, it is important to maintain working contacts, and from this point of view, we are developing exchanges with Russia in a complex ". The Ministry of Defense of Japan, the White Paper says, intends to pay attention to Russia's actions to expand its influence in the Middle East and military activity in the southern Kuriles, which in Tokyo consider their "northern territories".

It should be noted that in terms of maintaining the security contacts mentioned in the document, this year's first visit of Russian warships to the port of Hakodate on the neighboring island of Hokkaido is planned, and Katsutoshi Cavanaugh, head of the Joint Staff of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, is expected to visit Russia.
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