Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s administration is pushing for the finalization of the new national security strategy as tensions in the region continue to rise over China’s air defense identification zone. It is also part of the strategy for Japan to take a more active role in global security matters, particularly as the influence of its strongest ally, the United States, is shifting.
“As the security environment surrounding our country gets increasingly severe, we have been working to rebuild our national security policy with a firm commitment to defend the people’s lives and possessions,” Abe shared with the panel of experts and lawmakers who are drawing up the draft of the security strategy. They are patterning it after the strategies from the U.S. and other countries that have similar documents.
The basic message of the strategy is that Japan has to expand its alliances with other countries as both China‘s military expansion, and North Korea’s constant threat with its nuclear weapons program, are causes of concern in the region. It also stresses that Japan needs to strengthen its diplomatic and defense capabilities in order to contribute more to international peacekeeping efforts. Maritime defense is also a focus of the strategy in order for the country to properly defend itself against any possibility of intrusions due to several territorial disputes with its neighbors. Other issues tackled in the draft are the relaxation of the ban on arms exports and the revision of the long-term defense program guidelines. Both are expected to be finalized and approved by next week.
However, there has been a lot of criticism from the opposition, the general public and Japan’s closest neighbors over the nature of both the security strategy and the defense plan. Many fear that Japan will be veering from the Pacifist Constitution that they adopted after its militaristic rule during World War II. China and South Korea, both former colonies of Japan, have been vocal about their concerns with this latest development. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday that their neighbor has an “ulterior motive” for constantly harping on the threat of China. “We urge Japan to follow the historical trend, walk on the path of peaceful development and make due efforts to improve ties,” he said.
[ via AP ]