Several government sources revealed that the government began considering on Dec. 6 the revision of the National Security Strategy (NSS), which serves as a comprehensive guideline on foreign and security policies, by the end of next year. It has judged that with the ongoing process of revising the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG), which sets the basic policy on defense capability buildup, amid the tense North Korea situation, it is necessary to review the NSS, which is the document above the NDPG. The key issue will be how to incorporate elements not included in the current NSS, such as enemy base attack capability.
The NSS is a document that replaced the Basic Policy on National Defense approved by the cabinet in 1955. This was first drafted by the second Abe cabinet in December 2013. It is the highest-level strategic document of the government envisioning a period of 10 years, but its revision is now being advanced after less than five years.
In addition to peace in Japan, the current NSS’s definition of “national interest” includes the maintenance of the free trade system and an international order based on universal values such as democracy. It calls for Japan to “actively fulfill its responsibility as a major player in the international community.”
The government started reviewing the NDPG for the next 10 years in June. In light of Japan’s increasingly harsh security environment as a result of North Korea’s development of nuclear arms and missiles, China’s increasing Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) capability, and other factors, it will also revise the NDPG in line with the revision of the Mid-Term Defense Buildup Program from FY2019.
The government is planning to have the Mid-Term Defense Buildup Program, the NDPG, and the NSS approved by the cabinet by the end of 2018. It wants to include proposed budget allocations for the procurement of cruise missiles that can also be used for enemy base attack and redefine the overall foreign affairs and security strategy. This process will also take account of the Role Mission Capability (RMC) review under the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The government also intends to mention the “strategy for an open Indo-Pacific,” which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe advocates and President Donald Trump supports. It will put forth the policy of strengthening wide area security cooperation with Australia, India, and other U.S. allies and partners.