Japan’s new defense minister seeks to improve country’s defense posture against Chinese aggression

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH 183) and United States Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) sail in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC ) 2022, July 28. U.S. Navy picture

As Japan’s new defense chief, Yasukazu Hamada plans to improve Japan’s defense posture and capabilities, he said on Wednesday.

The recent activities of the Chinese military, combined with their lack of transparency regarding national defense policies and military capabilities, have become a major security concern for Japan, regional countries and the international community, Hamada said. .

The Defense Minister’s first task, on the list handed to him by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is to ensure that the Ministry of Defense implements national security policies more strategically and systematically under under the auspices of the National Security Council and in cooperation with relevant ministers, Hamada said during his inaugural press conference at the Defense Ministry.

“With regard to the national security strategy, the national defense program guidelines and the medium-term defense reinforcement plan, which are the foundations of the plan, we will work with the relevant ministers to revise them in the light of harsh security environment. surrounding our country and significantly improve our defense capabilities within five years,” Hamada said.

All options are being considered, including “counterattack capabilities,” which have been controversial due to Japan’s longstanding policy of having only defensive military capabilities, Hamada said. By the end of the year, the Ministry of Defense will finish evaluating the actions it could take to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities.

Other areas of focus for the Department of Defense include securing its supply of ammunition and ammunition, researching and developing military technologies, strengthening defense production and the technology base, and addressing the concerns of the public regarding the reorganization and activities of US military forces in Japan.

Japan will further enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US alliance by broadening and deepening security and defense cooperation between the two countries, Hamada said, adding that the need stems from the growing severity of the regional security situation.

With the Japan-US Alliance as the cornerstone, the Japanese military will conduct joint training and technical/equipment cooperation with Australia, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Europe, Pacific Island countries and others to maintain a “free and open Indo”. -Pacific,” Hamada said.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Asagiri-class destroyer JS Yamagiri (DD 152), left, JMSDF Asahi-class destroyer JS Asahi (DD 119) and JMSDF Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116) sail in formation during Annual exercise (ANNUALEX), 21 November. US Navy Photo

Japan’s defense minister said there was no change in Japan’s policy that the Taiwan issue should be resolved through peaceful dialogue. But he acknowledged that in recent years, as China rapidly built up its military power, the military balance between China and Taiwan had shifted in a more China-friendly direction, with the gap widening every year.

China’s military activities are of concern on the regional and international front, Hamada said. Japan will continue to monitor and monitor Chinese military activities and take all measures to prepare to respond to developments regarding the Taiwan issue.

Military strength is concentrated near Japan, with neighboring countries like China building up their military might and stepping up their military activities, Hamada said. This is a pressing issue for Japan, especially with the Chinese military recently conducting large-scale military exercises around Taiwan and launching ballistic missiles into training waters near Japan.

In line with the objective of strengthening defense in the southwest region, Japan has so far deployed units to Yonaguni Island, Amami Oshima Island and Miyako Island, and will also deploy units to Ishigaki Island during this exercise. Four anti-aircraft units operating the Patriot system have been deployed in the southwestern region, mainly in Naha, to respond to various airborne threats, including ballistic missiles, Hamada said.

This is Hamada’s second time as defense minister, having previously held the post from September 2008 to September 2009. He replaced Nobuo Kishi this week due to undisclosed health of Kishi – who confined him to a wheelchair – and the controversies surrounding the ties. between Kishi and other Japanese politicians, including his late brother, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and political financial backing from the Unification Church. Abe’s assassination would have shed light on the ties between Japanese politicians and the Unification Church. Kishi was appointed adviser to Prime Minister Kishida.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) mission continues steadily with a host of activities.

The first surface unit of the IPD22, which includes the helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), conducted a number of exercises after completing participation in Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2022 and departing Hawaii. August 5, Izumo conducted a goodwill exercise with the Mexican Navy contingent participating in RIMPAC, the frigate ARM Juarez (POLA-101) and ARM landing ship tank Usumacinta (A412), while Takanami carried out a goodwill exercise with the Chilean Navy frigate Almirante Lynch (FF07) on the same day.

On Sunday, the two Japanese ships then carried out replenishment exercises with the supply ship USNS Pecos (T-AO-197), followed by an exercise on Tuesday with the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338) and the Royal New Zealand Navy supply ship HMNZS Aotearoak. The Canadian frigate and the New Zealand supply ship also participated in RIMPAC. Winnipeg deployed with the frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331) for RIMPAC, and the two Canadian ships are now heading west to the Indo-Pacific for separate deployments in the region.

The second surface unit of the IPD22 deployment, the destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), currently operating in the Pacific Islands. On Monday, Kirisame conducted a Japan-US-Solomon Islands goodwill exercise with Royal Solomon Island Police Force patrol vessel RSIPV Taro (06) and Littoral Combat Ship USS Oakland (LCS-24). A Japanese-American bilateral exercise with Oakland also occurred near the Solomon Islands. Kirisame arrived in Vanatu on Thursday for a port call.

British Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Spey (P234), currently in Fiji, carries out various missions in the region, including assisting Pacific Island States to combat illegal fishing and criminal activities.

Speysister ship, HMS Tamar (P233), operates in the South China Sea, after calling at Manila on Wednesday. Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth (FFH157) is also in the South China Sea after docking at the Royal Malaysian Navy base in Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday.

Royal Australian Navy HMAS destroyer sydney (DDG42) is also in the area, while the RAN RIMPAC contingent which includes the HMAS helicopter landing dock Canberra (L02), HMAS frigate Warramunga (FFH152) and the HMAS tanker Provide (A195) are now heading towards the Indo-Pacific.