print PRINT


How can Japan boost deterrence in an era of “defense without weapons”?

  • September 3, 2021
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

By Hida Rintaro, Kobara Junnosuke, and Mizorogi Takuya


A military action is not the only way a country can attack or invade another country. Communication tools which many people are familiar with, such as social media, can pose a bigger threat when misused. China and Russia excel at “hybrid warfare,” which does not depend only on military power. Japan needs comprehensive capabilities against these threats, including information warfare.


The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) formulated an urgent proposal in late July 2021, stating that the U.S. and Japan should “recognize that China uses its economic strength, propaganda, and ‘hybrid warfare’ to coerce and influence other nations” and that the two nations should “develop measures to remedy those efforts.”


National Defense Academy Professor Kamiya Matake, who was involved in the proposal’s formulation, says that “China will take actions which cannot be described as ‘use of force.’”


Kamiya mentioned China’s non-military vessels intruding into territorial waters and proliferation of disinformation, claiming that “it was difficult to respond [to these actions], and the situation has become one in which China has an advantage before we realize it.”


Hybrid warfare, which blurs the boundaries between military and non-military actions, or contingency and peacetime, has already become common worldwide. Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Ukraine is said to be a typical example of such a case.


Entries with awkward grammar or unnatural Japanese fonts can be observed on Japanese websites and social media. Canon Institute for Global Studies Research Director Miyake Kunihiko says that it used to be obvious that such entries “were from Chinese sources, but more recent entries use artificial intelligence (AI) and have become more subtle.”


How can Japan increase its deterrence capabilities?


Nihon University Professor Kotani Ken mentions the example of the European Union (EU). The EU has established a department devoted to fact checking disinformation in order to monitor the actions of China and Russia. Kotani says that Japan’s present situation is akin to “doing nothing” and that Japan is “one lap behind” the other countries.


The U.S. National Security Council uses the acronym “DIME,” taken from the words diplomacy, information, military, and economy, to describe its responsibilities. The acronym represents the idea that it is necessary to comprehensively evaluate these four areas in terms of security.


Japan’s National Security Council was only established in 2013. A former top official at the NSC reveals that “Japan is not yet making decisions on the DIME model.” (Abridged)

  • Ambassador
  • Ukraine
  • COVID-19
  • Trending Japan