Japan to revise defense programs
Updated: 2013-01-26 07:37
By Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)
Japan announced on Friday that it will revise two defense programs, seeking to strengthen its military capabilities.
According to Xinhua News Agency, the decision was made during a Cabinet meeting at which the Japanese government also decided to form a panel on revising the National Defense Program Guidelines and the Mid-Term Defense Program.
It is expected that the new programs will be drawn up by the end of this year, and an interim report about the revisions will be presented in June.
The Japanese government also outlined a temporary defense program to protect its territory and enhance the emergency response capacity of its Self-Defense Forces. Earlier this month, it decided to freeze the current defense programs.
Japan's ground, maritime and air Self-Defense Forces need a combined 18,000 new recruits, the Japan Times reported, citing a Defense Ministry executive.
The current guidelines, adopted in 2010 by the Democratic Party of Japan-led government of former prime minister Naoto Kan, call for cuts in the defense budget and army headcount, said Reuters.
Soon after he was inaugurated in December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party ordered a revision of the guidelines, seeking to strengthen Japan's national defense capabilities in light of China's increased maritime activities near the Diaoyu Islands, said the Japan Times.
Tension between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, which have long belonged to China, has been escalating since September, when Japan attempted to "nationalize" part of the islands.
Abe has said he wants to loosen the limit of Japan's 1947 pacifist constitution on the military.
Japan is also seeking to increase its defense budget for the 2013 fiscal year, starting in April, by more than $1.1 billion to fund fuel and repair costs for patrol planes and research on radar technology, according to Reuters.
Japan's defense budget fell for the 10th consecutive year to $53 billion in the 2012 fiscal year, which ends in March.
The planned sum will include outlays related to the US military base realignments in Okinawa, according to the Japan Times.
Japan and the United States started their consultations on revising their defense cooperation guidelines last week. The talks are likely to focus on how to beef up their cooperation in view of China's increasing maritime presence.
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, has urged Japan to take the path of peaceful development and play a constructive role for regional peace and stability.
"As for the Japan-US military alliance, we have also made clear China's position many times. As a bilateral arrangement formed under special historical conditions, the alliance should not go beyond the bilateral scope and undermine the interests of a third party, including those of China," Hua said at a regular press conference shortly after Abe said Japan should revise the defense programs in December.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said as a result of the rise of right-wing forces in Japan's political arena, Abe's cabinet is filled with hawkish figures.
"If Japan continues to head in the wrong direction and challenge the Sino-Japanese relationship, it will only be like lifting a rock to drop on its own toes," Ruan wrote in an article published in the PLA Daily.
(China Daily 01/26/2013 page7)