Japan Ready to Declare: We’ll Go First

TOKYO – Japan has no intention to go it alone in defending its territory or national interests from growing threats in the Asia-Pacific region. But an annual defense review released Tuesday and other recent developments signal an increasing willingness on the part of Japan to go it alone, first.

Japan plans to establish a new National Security Council that would streamline how and when Tokyo would use military force, appoint a senior officer to command troops from all three armed services, and formally designate a Marine Corps-like force to defend its vulnerable southwest islands.

The United States remains Japan’s essential security partner, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to strengthen the U.S.-Japan defense alliance. But the new plans would allow Japan to respond to threats against its own territory without turning first to its long-time protector.

The annual Defense White Paper issued by the Ministry of Defense concludes that Japan faces “increasingly tangible, acute and serious” threats from its neighbors – meaning, China mostly — and must improve its ability to respond militarily, should that be necessary.

“The reality of the current international community suggests that it is not necessarily possible to prevent invasions from the outside by only nonmilitary means such as diplomatic efforts, and in the event that the nation were to be invaded it would not be able to remove such a threat…. For this reason, Japan is striving to develop proper defense capabilities to protect the lives and assets of the public and to defend the territorial land, sea and airspace of Japan,” the report says.

The most direct threat has been in the East China Sea, where Beijing has been aggressively pressing claims to the Senkaku Islands, which it calls Diaoyu. Chinese government patrol ships have intruded into Japanese-administered territorial waters around those islands nearly 50 times since September. On two occasions, PLA Navy frigates locked targeting radar onto Japanese warships and aircraft in international waters nearby.

Full article: Japan Ready to Declare: We’ll Go First (Time)

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