New National Defense Program imposing new role on Japan in serving U.S. forces under transformation -- Akahata editorial, November 18

The Japanese government has submitted to the ruling parties a basic plan for the next National Defense Program Outline.

The drafting of the new defense program is underway in conjunction with the Japan-U.S. talks to review the Japan-U.S. military alliance in line with the U.S. Bush administration's global transformation of its armed forces. In fact, the basic plan puts emphasis on Japan's military role in full response to the U.S. preemptive strike strategy.

Making overseas dispatch a major task of SDF

The basic plan was drafted on the basis of the report issued earlier by the Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's private council chaired by Araki Hiroshi. The crux of the Araki report is a call for the SDF to unlimitedly take part in anti-terror wars waged by the U.S. Bush administration and for new mechanisms to be established with the aim of allowing the SDF to be dispatched overseas.

The government's basic plan is in line with the Araki report.

While concluding that the possibility of Japan facing major aggression has decreased, the basic plan states that Japan must be able to respond to new threats from international terrorism. This is to accede to the Bush administration's demand that the SDF take part in its anti-terror wars.

Under the SDF Law and according to the government's view, the SDF's task is to defend Japan from foreign invasion. Thus the SDF can not carry out operations outside of Japan jointly with the U.S. Apparently with the aim of making it possible to send the SDF on missions abroad, the draft argues that Japan needs to "prevent direct threats to Japan." This is a logic that threats to Japan must be thwarted by suppressing international terrorism.

Responding to international terrorism amounts to Japan's participation in the U.S. preemptive strike strategy which will be invoked by arbitrarily labeling a country as a threat as was the case with Iraq.

This argument completely ignores even the government's basic policy of "exclusively self-defensive national defense," not to mention the pacifist Constitution.

Emphasizing that U.S. military presence is essential in order to maintain peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific region, the basic plan calls for Japan's proactive participation in strategic communications with the United States. It means that Japan will unconditionally accept the U.S. plan to realign its forces in Japan.

Regarding the existing military alliance treaties as vestiges of the period of confrontation with the former Soviet Union, the U.S. Bush administration now looks for new military alliances that correspond to its preemptive attack strategy. This reorganization plan includes the review of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, now underway in the ongoing talks between the two countries.

Relocation of the U.S. First Army Corps to U.S. Camp Zama in Japan is a matter of great concern. It is a clear example showing how the Japan-U.S. military alliance is being reorganized. The First Army Corps is a combined force. Its duty is to take action from anywhere, the Middle East or the Asian Pacific, in the event of a U.S. emergency. Relocating the First Corps to Japan will conflict with the stated purpose of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which is "to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East and the security of Japan." The idea that the question of U.S. bases in Okinawa should be resolved by relocating them to other parts of Japan instead of closing them is tied to the realignment process. The joint use of bases by the U.S. forces and Japan's Self-Defense Forces is also on the agenda. All these are aimed at clearing the path of all obstacles to the U.S. plan.

Diet discussion is essential

Drafting the new National Defense Program Outline will only help strengthen the Japan-U.S. military alliance and has an important bearing on the stated aim and role of the SDF. The basic plan for the National Defense Program Outline also proposes easing restrictions on arms exports on the grounds that the need now is to act in line with the international trend moving toward joint development and production of weapons.

This is not something that the government and the ruling parties can decide on their own. The new National Defense Program Outline, including its basic plan, should be thoroughly discussed in the Diet. (end)

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