A panel of experts, convened by the government to comprehensively study Japan's defense capabilities, presented its report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Nov. 22.

The report effectively calls for fundamental changes in the nation's postwar defense policy.

Yet, it took the Advisory Panel to Comprehensively Discuss Defense Capabilities as National Strength only four meetings in the course of less than two months to reach that momentous decision.

That leads us to conclude that the panelists' foremost priority lay in getting the report completed in time for the government's planned revision of its three major defense-related documents by the end of this year.

With that sort of time constraint, the panel could not have conducted any thorough, in-depth discussion. Further deliberation by political parties in the Diet is definitely in order.

Separately, the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, are also conducting their own joint discussions. The government will compile its final document based on the panel’s report as well as the results of the discussions by the ruling parties.

The panel recommended that Japan's defense capabilities be fundamentally reinforced within the next five years, citing the growing severity of the security environment surrounding Japan.

We were stunned that the report stated the "indispensability" of Japan's capability to strike enemy bases to maintain and enhance deterrence, even though the government had explained that this was not the report's main topic.

How can the report's assertion be reconciled with the nation's traditional "defense-only" policy? Wouldn't an attack on an enemy base preparing to launch missile attacks on Japan constitute a pre-emptive strike in violation of international law, and invite a retaliatory attack?

But the minutes of the panel's meetings reveal no evidence that such questions were discussed sufficiently. The panel has only itself to blame for coming across as if all its decisions were already made.

As for the assertion that Japan should acquire enough missiles as soon as possible, including those to be purchased from foreign makers, this was an obvious nod to the government's decision to consider buying U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Regarding the level of defense expenditures, the report noted that while Japan's "efforts" should be acknowledged, the nation should not adopt NATO's level because of differences in national and security-related circumstances.

It appears that the panel decided not to go along with the LDP's idea of 2 percent of GDP, which is what NATO is aiming for.

What Kishida anticipated most from the panel was its recommendation on how to secure the funding needed to bolster the nation's defense capabilities.

The panel's report recommended expenditure reforms through budget cuts in non-defense areas, but also stated that the entire Japanese population should shoulder whatever financial burden that still remained.

The report did not cite any specific tax items, but made the necessity of tax hikes quite clear.

While the report did not negate the issuance of a "bridge bond," which would be repaid through future tax hikes, we support the panel's basic stance of not relying on financing to saddle future generations with our debts.

However, as the report itself stresses, the public's full understanding and cooperation are indispensable if the people's financial burden is to be increased. This premise must never be forgotten.

The revision of the government's three important national security documents will be a major decision that will impact the nation's future. As such, it would be totally wrong to leave the decision only to the government and the ruling coalition and not involve the public in extensive discourse.

We demand that intensive deliberations, including opposition parties, on the panel's report be conducted in the Diet, albeit belatedly.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 23

QOSHE - EDITORIAL: Panel report on defense policy requires careful scrutiny in Diet - The Asahi Shimbun
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EDITORIAL: Panel report on defense policy requires careful scrutiny in Diet

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23.11.2022

A panel of experts, convened by the government to comprehensively study Japan's defense capabilities, presented its report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Nov. 22.

The report effectively calls for fundamental changes in the nation's postwar defense policy.

Yet, it took the Advisory Panel to Comprehensively Discuss Defense Capabilities as National Strength only four meetings in the course of less than two months to reach that momentous decision.

That leads us to conclude that the panelists' foremost priority lay in getting the report completed in time for the government's planned revision of its three major defense-related documents by the end of this year.

With that sort of time constraint, the panel could not have conducted any thorough, in-depth discussion. Further deliberation by political parties in the Diet is definitely in order.

Separately, the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, are also conducting their own joint discussions. The........

© The Asahi Shimbun


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