Japan has outlined a deteriorating geopolitical environment in its immediate region and beyond in its latest Defense of Japan White Paper, which was released by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) on 14 July.
“Uncertainty over the existing order is increasing, and inter-state competition is becoming prominent across the political, economic and military realms,” the MoD stated. “Military powers with high quality and quantity are concentrated in Japan’s surroundings, where clear trends such as further military buildup and an increase in military activities are observed.”
“A regional cooperation framework in the security realm has not been sufficiently institutionalised in the Indo-Pacific region and longstanding issues of territorial rights and reunification continue to remain,” it further noted.
In particular, the MoD accused China of conducting “coercive and unilateral actions” around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and that its maritime activities in the South China Sea are “expanding and intensifying” in a bid to “change the status quo through the use of coercion”.
The MoD also stated that it is closely monitoring Russia’s growing military co-operation with Beijing, with one example being a joint air patrol between two of its Tu-95 strategic bombers with their Chinese H-6 counterparts over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea in July 2019.
Elsewhere, North Korea continues to “pose grave and imminent threats” with its unceasing efforts to enhance its missile capabilities.
Japan’s defence procurement
The White Paper also outlined Japan’s defence procurement targets, with cyber and electronic warfare prominently highlighted. These include the research and development of standoff electronic warfare aircraft as well as electromagnetic jamming-resistant platforms such as the Lockheed Martin F-35A/B aircraft.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will receive three Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, seven Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters, two destroyers, a submarine, and a minesweeper. The MoD also confirmed that JS Izumo, one of its two Izumo-class multipurpose ‘destroyers’, is being refitted to support F-35B operations, while a new type of small unmanned underwater vehicle will aid underwater defence.
Meanwhile, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will also be boosted by the establishment of an unmanned aerial vehicle unit and aerial refuelling and transport squadron. The country will also lead efforts to develop the service’s next-generation F-X fighter.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) will receive new small arms for its troops – such as the Howa Type 20 5.56mm assault rifle and Heckler & Koch SFP-9 automatic pistol – as well as more artillery and combat vehicles. These include seven Type 19 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers and 33 Type 16 Mobile Combat Vehicles.
The MoD also plans to enhance its air and ballistic missile defences with the procurement of SM-3 Block IIA surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and enhancements to its Raytheon Patriot SAM systems. It will also acquire more standoff surface-to-surface missiles.
by Jr Ng