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Editorial: Global leaders should wisely consider changing course to disarmament

  • January 22, 2019
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

The “Missile Defense Review (MDR),” which the U.S. administration has released, may signal that the world may have entered an endless global arms race. What the world needs to do now is not to counter threats but to wisely change course to disarmament.


The strategic document governing the country’s missile defense was reviewed for the first time in nine years since President Barack Obama was in office in 2010.


The previous “Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR)” focused on ballistic missile threats posed by Iran and North Korea. The latest review, however, focuses not only on ballistic missiles but is also aimed primarily at setting forth countermeasures against the emergence of new missile threats, including advanced cruise missiles that China and Russia are developing and hypersonic weapons that are more than five times faster than the speed of sound.


The MDR states that the U.S. will begin feasibility studies on an advanced space-based sensor and an intercept system. The high-spec sensor is intended to track new weapons that are hard to detect through ground-based radars.


The Trump administration probably concluded that the U.S. needs to maintain its military supremacy and deterrence given that the Chinese and Russian development of new weapons may lead to disabling the U.S. missile defense platform.


The development of new missiles pursued by China and Russia is indeed a grave concern, but it cannot be denied that the U.S. missile defense program is driving them up.


The MDR mentions that the U.S. is building its missile defense program in the Indo-Pacific region in partnership with Japan and other nations in the region, noting that the U.S. will “expand burden-sharing with its allies and partners.” This is something that Japan cannot overlook.


The Japanese government plans to deploy two “Aegis Ashore” land-based interceptor batteries, each of which costs 122.4 billion yen. A further review of the missile defense platform may press Japan to purchase more defense hardware.


The MDR also includes plans to use state-of-the-art stealth fighter jets, which Japan plans to procure 147 in total, to intercept boost-phase missiles.


These plans stated in the MDR imply that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are already integrated into the U.S. missile defense platform. But does Japan’s missile defense program serve to protect Japan? Isn’t Japan’s defense capability buildup leading to stoke the global arms race? These questions need to be assessed in depth.


All countries need to safeguard themselves. But the arms race that stretches into outer space may lead the humanity to perish if it goes out of control. The global leaders must discuss evils that the arms race creates and wisely and bravely convince each other of the importance of disarmament.  

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