Kyoji Yanagisawa is a former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary. Interviewed by Hiroshi Shinkai.
Japan’s Legislation for Peace and Security enabled Japan to exercise collective self-defense to protect other countries using force and the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to defend U.S. military vessels and aircraft. This legislation further advanced the two countries’ military integration so that Japan can “protect” the U.S.
If the SDF gains the capacity to attack enemy bases, Japan and the U.S. will be unified in “attacking” other countries. A command-and-control system supported by an enormous amount of information is necessary to hit multiple missile launch bases in order to prevent enemy attacks. This requires Japan to rely on the U.S. [Gaining the capacity to attack enemy bases] can be interpreted as a declaration of Japan’s intent to willingly join the U.S. in a war.
The capacity to attack enemy bases may be linked to the exercise of collective self-defense. The Japanese government regards a North Korean missile attack against Guam as a situation that poses a national threat. It is possible that Japan would attack an enemy base to prevent this threat.
Over the past three years the SDF has conducted more than 30 operations to protect U.S. military vessels and aircraft. Would the SDF attack an enemy base in response to an attack by China from a base on the Chinese mainland or in the South China Sea, where the U.S. and China are engaged in a fierce competition?
There is a heightened possibility that East Asia will become a battleground with the U.S. and China engaging in military provocations. If Japan, which has the right to exercise collective self-defense, also obtains the capability to attack enemy bases, it would not result in increased deterrence but would lead surrounding countries to build up their militaries and create an unstable situation. Now is the time to logically review what actions should be taken in what situations and whether such actions will lead to war, without being carried away by emotional arguments such as the “protection of citizens’ lives.”