See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy

Japan eyes stronger self defense force

Abe’s government expands the scope and technical abilities of its self defense force in the face of a resurgent China and more assertive Russia.


Written by

Updated: December 19, 2018

Shinzo Abe’s government will expand the scope and technical abilities of its self defense force after the adoption of a new defense program aimed at meeting new challenges from longtime regional rivals.

While the Japanese constitution limits her armed forces to self defense and humanitarian missions, on Tuesday, the government adopted a revised National Defense Program Guideline and a new Mid-Term Defense Program stipulating the introduction of top-of-the-line F-35B stealth fighter jets, and the conversion of the Izumo-class destroyers to be used as aircraft carriers.

Once converted the Izumo class ships will be Japan’s first carriers since the end of the Second World War.

Meeting Regional Challenges 

According to the defense documents, the measures taken by the government are due to an increasingly assertive Russia and China.

“The United States remains the world’s most powerful nation, but national rivalries are surfacing and we recognise the importance of the strategic competition with both China and Russia as they challenge the regional order,” said the new defense program outline.

China has in recent years taken steps to modernize and expand its navy.

China currently has one carrier in operations, a refurbished Soviet era ship renamed the Liaoning. Beijing has since launched a new native-built aircraft carrier with more in the pipeline. The country has also built additional bases in the heavily contested South China Sea and has the world’s largest maritime militia. (A full assessment of China’s maritime forces can be found here)

The United States’ draw-down on the Korean Peninsula with a rapprochement between Seoul and Pyongyang has Japan apprehensive about its position with North Korea (which sees Japan as a historical foe).

With Japan’s home island within range of nuclear tipped missiles from North Korea, Abe’s government has asked for a cautious approach when dealing with Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Trump’s scaled-back rhetoric on defense means that Russia has grown more bold on its Eastern border. Russian planes regularly patrol the East China Sea and Moscow has built new bases on islands that it captured from Japan at the end of the second world war.

New equipment

In response to the changing diplomatic landscape, the Japanese government approved on Tuesday, a policy of introducing 105 top-of-the-line F-35 stealth fighter jets to replace about 100 F-15 main fighter jets that are now in service but deemed difficult to modify. The scale of the related budget is estimated to be in excess of ¥1 trillion.

When combined with the 42 F-35A fighter jets that are being introduced, the number of F-35 fighter jets will rise to 147.

Of the aircraft to be additionally introduced, there will be 63 F-35A jets, which use regular runways, and 42 F-35B jets, which are capable of short-field takeoffs and vertical landings, and can be mounted aboard the Izumo-class carriers. Eighteen F-35B jets are scheduled to be introduced under the latest mid-term program.

The programs also stipulate boosting of self-defense capabilities in such new domains as outer space and cyberspace.

 



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Diplomacy

Diplomatic thaw prompted active inter-Korean exchanges in 2018

The number of South Koreans visiting the North and vice versa increased sharply to 7,498 in 2018 from 115 in 2017. South Korea greatly expanded exchanges and cooperation with North Korea last year, buoyed by a diplomatic thaw following three inter-Korean summits, according to a new white paper published by the Ministry of Unification on Thursday. The surge in visits was attributed to government initiatives to cooperate with the North on an inter-Korean railway connection project, a forestry project and various sports events. Social and cultural exchanges driven by civic groups and local governments also played a role, according to the 2019 White Paper on


By The Korea Herald
March 22, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Italy to play a key role as Belt and Road opens new doors across globe

Italy will be a major part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. East-West relations have entered a new phase. Global integration, with sustained increases in crossborder exchanges of goods, technology, knowledge and resources, has reshaped international relations, spurring economic development of traditionally marginal regions and encouraging economic convergence among poorer and richer areas. The phenomenon has received great impetus from the possibilities offered by technological progress and the increase in physical and digital connectivity, strongly enhanced by the modernization and innovation efforts of Asian countries. What we have seen and are still seeing, indeed, is not a simple shift of production from the West to the East, but a real change in production models. The production and consumption of goods and services have followed value chains that are no longer confined to a local scale, but are


By China Daily
March 22, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

No sign of concrete policies for conflict in Thailand’s restive south

Parties offer few if any answers for a 15-year-old deadly insurgency that successive govts have failed to quell. Peace and conflict have never been significant parts of any political party platform in Thailand. This is because a sustainable solution calls for long-term commitment to a policy that could prove to be politically costly. Lasting peace requires self-reflection on the part of both the state and society. Policymakers have to rethink the policy of assimilation that has so far been rejected by the Malay Muslim populace of the southern border provinces because it comes at the expense of their cultural and religious identity. Full-fledged armed insurgency erupted in the far South in the 1960s, some 50 years after the signing of the Anglo-Siam Treaty that defined our current political borders. There was a brief calm in the 1990s, but the absence of violence did not mean peace. A new generat


By The Nation (Thailand)
March 22, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

How competing masculinities inform Pak-India escalation

Devaluing the other in gender hierarchies often takes place through feminisation. Last month, tensions reigned high between neighbouring nuclear powers that share an ugly history of separation and bellicosity. Once more, India and Pakistan seemed to be at the brink of war. Airports were shut down, the Line of Control was violated, and de-escalation — especially in the newfound absence of dedicated third-party intervention — looked out of bounds for the most part. War-mongering through media outlets prevailed while fake and selective news circulated in this situation of crisis. Yet, it is baffling — if also not amusing — that even in such delicate moments, rhetoric of ‘putting them in their place’ was omnipresent on both sides. Similarly, a few months ago, when Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted his disappointment regarding peace talks with India, he chastised that he ha


By Dawn
March 21, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Moon holds meeting with US intelligence chief in Seoul

The meeting comes after the failed Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim. President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday met with US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in Seoul to discuss bilateral issues, Cheong Wa Dae said. According to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, Moon and Coats held an “in-depth and wide ranging discussion about current issues between South Korea and the US.” Coats’ visit is seen as aimed at sharing information and assessment of North Korea following the breakdown of last month’s summit between the two countries. Earlier, a local newspaper reported that Coats arrived at a US air base in Osan, south of Seoul,


By The Korea Herald
March 21, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Is Kim Jong-un considering ‘new way’?

Post Hanoi summit failure, speculation grows on what new mode of defense may be. Following the failure to reach an agreement at last month’s summit between the US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, tension has been building between the two sides, threatening the negotiations that they have built over the past year. While the breakdown of their second meeting did not lead to a war of words, North Korea said it was considering suspending talks with the United States, while Washington accused Pyongyang of “not doing what it needs to do.” The communist leader warned in his New Year’s speech this year he would have to find a new way for defending the North if the US did not keep its promises. As the US appears to have no intention of taking the “commensurate measures” the North seeks for the denuclearization steps it has taken, speculation has grown as to whether


By The Korea Herald
March 20, 2019