(Sankei: July 22, 2015 – p. 2)
The distinguishing feature of the 2015 Defense White Paper is that it issues a strong warning against China’s ongoing actions in the South and East China Sea in disregard of international rules and calls for efforts to maintain maritime security.
This is a viewpoint that Japan, as a maritime state, needs to pay utmost attention to and an issue with great impact on the international community.
As the white paper was being finalized, the new issue of China’s frantic construction of a platform at sea near the Japan-China median line in the East China Sea was added.
In a democracy, the people have the right to basic information on security.
Since the government is demanding the discontinuation of the construction work, it is quite natural that this should be taken up in the white paper. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani has also mentioned in the Diet that the maritime platform may become a military base in the future.
China has its eye on the sea areas near the Okinawa islands, including the Senkakus. The debate on security policy should also take into account the reality of the environment in Japan’s periphery.
The white paper discusses in detail China’s arbitrary reclamation of reefs and construction of a runway and port facilities in the South China Sea.
“Open and stable oceans,” where the freedom of passage is guaranteed, are indeed the foundation of peace and prosperity. The white paper is right in demanding that China’s actions in the sea and the air should adhere to the “rule of law.”
The white paper calls North Korea’s development of nuclear arms and ballistic missiles a “major imminent threat” but refers to China only as a “security concern.” There is a discrepancy in the treatment of these two countries.
The number of scrambles launched by Self-Defense Forces planes against Chinese aircraft in FY2014 reached a record 464 times. It is important to state unequivocally in the white paper and in Diet deliberations that China is a military “threat” and inform the people about this situation.
It is insufficient that the white paper merely offers an outline of the security bills that have been passed by the House of Representatives, on which the House of Councillors will begin deliberations shortly.
There are certainly restrictions because the bills are still being deliberated. However, the white paper should have discussed why security legislation is necessary, including the question of China.
It is necessary to authorize the limited exercise of the right to collective self-defense and strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance in order to safeguard Japan’s peace and security and the people’s lives and property. The government and the ruling parties should take every available opportunity to provide a thorough explanation of their basic thinking.