(Yomiuri: June 9, 2015 – p. 4)
China’s construction of a military base in the South China Sea has given rise to heightened tension with its neighbors. U.S. forces have stepped up their involvement through surveillance and reconnaissance. There is concern that this situation may result in an accidental conflict.
Civilian fishing boats of country B ran aground on island X, which is under the effective control of country A. Militiamen disguised as fishermen subdue the security force on the island and hoist the national flag of country B. Its government sends military ships to the island on the pretext of protecting the fishermen and begins efforts to take effective control.
Despite the outcry from the international community, the U.S. decides not to engage in military intervention in its desire to avoid an all-out conflict with country B, but sends aircraft carriers to the sea area near the island. The U.S. attempts to prompt country B to withdraw through surveillance, reconnaissance, and other actions to show its military power.
Since this situation is likely to turn into a protracted confrontation, the U.S. requests logistical support from the Japanese government. Dispatching the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will require the designation of this situation as a “situation having a major impact” on Japan’s peace and security under the law on situations with a major impact. The National Security Council (NSC) is convened to discuss Japan’s response. Certain cabinet ministers assert that “the island is geographically far from Japan and this is not a stage where an armed conflict has occurred,” pointing out that this does not constitute a situation with major impact.
On the other hand, island X is on the sea lane used by civilian ships carrying goods and crude oil bound for Japan. Many ships have already been forced to make detours, disrupting their operations. If an armed conflict erupts between countries A and B, the ramifications will be even more serious.
The prime minister decides that “it is necessary to assist the U.S. forces to resolve this situation.” The government designates this as a situation with major impact by convening the NSC and passing a cabinet decision. After obtaining the Diet’s approval, an order is issued to deploy the SDF. The Maritime SDF’s supply ships begin refueling U.S. Aegis Ships patrolling the area around island X. To ensure that unprotected U.S. ships are not attacked while refueling at sea, escort ships are also mobilized to protect U.S. vessels under Article 95, Paragraph 2 of the SDF Law pertaining to “defense of weapons and other equipment.” This marks the beginning of a joint Japan-U.S. response to the crisis.