Here’s a guest post by Shino Hateruma, a student at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies. Shino is Japanese but identifies as Okinawan, and is interested in U.S. – Japanese relations. This is her first post.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa (Source: Wikimedia)

Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa gave a public speech at the symposium of the Japanese Security Policy on January 12, 2011 in Tokyo. It was a rare occasion that he spoke about Japanese defense policy with his own words in public.

At the end of last year, the DPJ government brought out the National Defense Program Outline. In the symposium, Kitazawa explained the government spent about a year discussing and making up the Japan’s new defense policy with related ministers, bureaucrats and the members of DPJ.

The Defense Minister highlighted changes of the Japan’s defense posture. The previous basic defense concept, which focused on the existence of defense itself, will be switched to the concept of “dynamic defense capacity,” which increases the effectiveness of Japan’s deterrence by enhancing and emphasizing its defensive capabilities. It basically means Japan’s Self Defense Force will be more active in surveillance, patrolling, collecting information, and joint exercise with allies and partners.

Kitazawa also gave a simple explanation of deterrence. He said, “It is the striking power of U.S. Forces in Japan that a challenger against Japan would be scared of most.” According to him, its core power is the Marine Corps, the 7th Fleet, and the airbases at Kadena and Misawa. Regarding the Futenma issue, the minister recognized that it was impossible to separate ground and air troops of the Marine Corps. “The current plan to allocate the Futenma base to Henoko, northeast of the Okinawa main island is feasible in terms of construction and environmental costs,” he added.

This policy was born from the brand-new government of DPJ. By the minister’s public speech, it became clearer that the nation’s defense policy was politically generated—previous policies were generally made under the control of bureaucrats. More active defense, more focus on the southeast region, maintaining the U.S.-Japan alliance will be the basis of the Japan’s security. It seems that Japan is eager to keep the status quo without adding provocative elements or losing what it has now.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch