Formerly pacifist Japan turning hawkish on defense policy

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Former high-ranking military officers in Japan are calling on Japan to drop its defensive military posture and adopt a more “offensive defense” capabilities, including long-range cruise missiles and other precision weapons.

The main advocate is retired Vice Admiral Hideaki Kaneda who has raised the idea in the Diet over the past two years and has renewed his advocacy of it in recent months, according to Japanese press reports.

A North Korean missile test which overflew Japan in 1998 shocked the nation and led to a review of strictly neutral defense policies imposed under pressure by the U.S. occupation following Japan's disastrous defeat in World War II.

Kaneda stated in a the February edition of the naval monthly Sekai no Kansen that Japan needs to build a "denial" capability or "offensive defense," that would mean "carrying out a direct attack...on the launchers and related facilities...before a missile is launched to neutralize or render it harmless." Kaneda currently is director of the Okazaki Institute and retired from the Japanese navy in 1999.

He also wants Japan to deploy conventional arms such as land attack cruise missiles, long-range, stand-off, precision strike weapons, submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and ground-penetrating warheads.

That such tough talks could be publicly expressed in post-World War II Japan is an indication that the political climate has changed to one more open to nationalist concerns.

Former Chairman of the Joint Staff Council Hajime Sakuma told Yomiuri Weekly in 2003 that Japan "should have the ability to attack on [its] own and not rely on the U.S. military." He said Japan "should introduce Tomahawk cruise missiles" as a "deterrent force."

Kaneda also supports development of laser weapons and high-powered microwave arms, along with support from a more sophisticated intelligence system that as he wrote would permit “Japan to carry out an attack against a missile attack command center in an appropriate manner."

Kaneda advocates the “5 Ds,” mainly to respond to missile threats to Japan. They include denial, dissuasion, deterrence, (active) defense, and damage confinement, or civil defense.

Other offensive defense advocates include retired Gen. Toshiyuki Shikata, who has said Japan was "terribly unprepared" following North Korea's July 2006 missile tests. “We must develop the capability to execute tactical denial as soon as we can," he said, noting that they include "precision guided bombs" and "cruise missiles that can be launched from naval ships."

Copyright © 2007 East West Services, Inc.

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