The 214th Meeting of "Foreign Policy Briefing"
on "Japanese Security and Defense Policies" Held

JFIR and its two sister organizations, the Global Forum of Japan and the Council on East Asia Community, monthly organize a "Foreign Policy Briefing" meeting to provide an occasion for their members to meet in an informal and confidential manner with senior officials of the Japanese Government and/or other experts and specialists in fields related to international relations. The 214th "Foreign Policy Briefing" meeting was held on 26 May 2009 on the topic of "Japanese Security and Defense Policies". An outline of the presentation of Mr. MASUDA Kohei, Vice-Minister of Defense, was as follows.

As regards Japan's policy towards North Korea, attention must be paid to its missiles and nuclear tests. In view of such provocative moves by North Korea as the launch of a long-range Taepodong-1 missile in 1998, seven ballistic missiles and an underground nuclear test in 2006 and the recent underground nuclear test and North Korea's defiant attitudes against U.N. Security Council's statement on North Korea, we must admit that North Korea, as a state, carries out its words. We must assess whether what North Korea refers to as "inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM)" is, in effect, short-ranged or true to its name.

Soon after North Korea carried out an underground nuclear test, Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) dispatched a T-4 trainer aircraft to implement the task of collecting atmospheric samples to detect radioactive dust. When North Korea launched missiles last month, the Ministry of Defense of Japan, despite some misinformation at an initial stage, fulfilled its mission to let the entire nation know as soon as possible the fact of the launch. As regards Japan's BMD (ballistic missile defense) capabilities, two Aegis destroyers equipped with SM-3 System, enough to defend the entire territory of Japan, were deployed in the Sea of Japan, while an Aegis destroyer without interception capabilities was deployed in the Pacific to collect information. Japan's BMD system is a multi-tier defense system comprising upper-tier interception and lower-tier interception, the latter being implemented by the Patriot PAC-3 System.

As regards Japan's intelligence management, information leak cases in the past suggest that the situation leaves much to be desired. The Japanese government has now set out to review the National Defense Program Guidelines to accommodate an evolving international environment. One of the foci of discussion within the government on the revision of the Mid-Term Defense Program would be the status of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). As for the relations between the Ministry of Defense and the Cabinet Secretariat, there seems to have been a reversal of roles of the two, initiatives of the former being taken over by the latter. Debates on national security policy are intrinsically subject of the whole-of-the-government approach. On the part of the Ministry of Defense, JSDF must respond adequately to the expectations of the nation through operation and practice.


The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR)