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Japan’s exclusive defense posture to be undermined by counterattack capability

Sota Shintaro of the Tokyo Shimbun sat down with attorney Sakata Masahiro, former Director-General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, to learn his views on revising the government’s three security-related documents, including the National Security Strategy.


Former Director-General Sakata Masahiro of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau

 Tokyo Shimbun: The LDP’s proposal [submitted to the government] included the possession of the capability to attack enemy bases, which is now called a “counterattack capability.”


Sakata: The government has said that logically Japan can possess an attack capability under the Constitution, but my understanding has been that actually “possessing” an attack capability is different from saying “Japan can possess an attack capability.”


If the U.S. is to maintain the role of attacking on Japan’s behalf under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, it is necessary to explain why Japan now needs to possess its own striking power. What the government calls the attack capability does not matter; what matters is the type of weapons Japan will possess.


Tokyo Shimbun: What is your view on the inclusion of the “command and control functions” of an enemy country among potential targets of attacks by Japan?


Sakata: Destruction of command and control functions is nearly tantamount to a full-scale attack on an enemy country. How would that differ from the capabilities of other countries’ militaries?


Japan largely undermined its exclusive defense posture by the adoption of the right to collective self-defense under the security legislation. Possession of an attack capability means that Japan will further undermine its exclusive defense posture in terms of the military power.


Tokyo Shimbun: The LDP calls for an increase in defense spending with an eye toward a target of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP).


Sakata: There have been qualitative and quantitative aspects to Japan’s exclusive defense posture. Japan has neither needed many weapons (quantity) nor offensive weapons (quality). Here’s the question: If Japan doubles its defense spending from 1%, which was the national consensus, to 2% of GDP, will Japan’s neighbors still regard Japan as a pacifist nation.

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