Japan Security Watch readers might be interested in the following publications from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

A GSDF medic provides medical assistance as part of the Japanese disaster relief mission there

A GSDF medic provides medical assistance as part of the Japanese disaster relief mission there (Source: MoD)

In With a Left Like This, Who Needs the Right?, Jeffery Hornung charts the DPJ’s stance on many issues that were previously the ground of the LDP. He concludes:

Along with continued support for the alliance, the DPJ will continue to make contributions. However, these will differ in form, not substance, from the LDP. The DPJ will continue along its trajectory of closer relations with the United States and further strengthen ties with U.S. partners. At the same time, the DPJ will continue to be involved in international efforts substantially the same as the LDP. However, theform of this involvement will be limited to nonmilitary operations such as UN-mandated PKOs or humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, as well as operations that directly affect Japan’s security. In the former category, expect to see continued contributions similar to the $5 billion to Afghanistan for reconstruction and the dispatch of SDF units to places like Haiti and Pakistan for HA/DR. These operations are either UN mandated or purely humanitarian in nature, allowing the DPJ to contribute SDF without questions about Japan’s legal restraints. In the latter category, expect the DPJ to continue to prioritize defense of both its homeland and sea-lanes of communication on which the economy so heavily depends. This means continued involvement in antipiracy efforts, including possible increased cooperation with India, Indonesia, and others regarding the Malacca Strait, as well as possible permanent legislation to enable the MSDF to defend sea-lanes in the Indian Ocean. It also means continued involvement in the missile defense system with the United States.

Read more at CSIS


A South Korean solider on guard duty (Reuters)

A South Korean solider on guard duty (Reuters)

The second publication, The Korean Military Balance – Comparative Korean Forces And The Forces Of Key Neighboring States by Anthony H. Cordesman, is an overview of the conventional and asymmetric forces at the disposal of the North and South. At 170 pages, it’s pretty dense, but for anyone with an interest in the Korean Peninsula, there is something there for you. I took this from the executive summary as it ties in with some of my own research here at JSW:

There is no reason to assume that any new Korean War would involve the total commitment of the conventional forces on each side, would separate the use of conventional warfare from asymmetric warfare, could be decoupled from the deterrent and war limiting impact of the fact that North Korea has nuclear and chemical weapons, and both the US and China are major regional nuclear powers.

A war might escalate into a struggle for control of the Korean peninsula, but it is far from clear that this would be the case. North Korea might conduct a major conventional build-up to pressure South Korea, Japan, and/or the United. It might do so to deal with internal unrest by trying to focus the nation on a foreign enemy. It might launch a limited war for the same reasons. Both North and South Korea would be under at least initial pressure to keep any conflict limited and to find ways to end it, and return to the status before the conflict began.

It is possible that North Korea might take the risk of an all out attack, and some experts have postulated that it might do so if its regime either came under severe internal threat in an effort to unify North Korea’s citizens around a foreign threat, or it felt it was isolated politically and the US and/or South Korea might attack.

It seems more likely, however, that North Korea would use conventional forces to conduct a limited war for limited objectives. It might try to seize islands or part of the DMZ, or to demonstrate its capability to threaten and intimidate South Korea through a limited attack or by launching a major artillery attack across the border on Seoul or some other critical South Korean strategic objective. It might increase the readiness of conventional forces and/or deploy more forward in a battle of intimidation and never go beyond a minor border incident, raid, or use of asymmetric forces in a limited attack somewhere in South Korea or local waters.

Read more at CSIS

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch