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20.11.2013 г.

Japan-US Missile Defense as a Factor of the Changing Basic Principles in Tokyo's Security Policy

Oleg Paramonov

Japan today is not only the most valuable and promising partner of Washington in the field of missile defense, but it is gradually becoming an important and influential actor in this highly sensitive sector of the international security environment. Such changes in Japan's role are still poorly predictable in terms of impact not only on the regional, but also on the global security environment since the anti-war provisions of the Japanese Constitution have been one of the elements of the regional status quo. At present, the attitude of the neighboring countries to Tokyo's plans in the military sphere is no longer so commonly negative.

An assessment of the missile defense situation during the three years of the rule of the Democratic Party of Japan suggests that some progress has been achieved in this ​​cooperation. This is due to a large extent to the efforts of the Japanese bureaucracy, namely, officials from the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry who were able to maintain control over the anti-missile aspect of Japanese-American cooperation and to take responsibility for making important decisions.

After the victory in the parliamentary elections in December 2012, the government of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDPJ) announced its plans to review before the end of 2013 the National Defense Program Guidelines of 2010. This intention of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears as a very ambitious political move given that the 2009 Guidelines were meant to remain effective for a five-year term and that their elaboration relied on the ideas proposed by LDPJ think tanks.

Recommendations for new National Defense Program Guidelines of Japan (hereinafter the new Guidelines) were prepared by several LDPJ committees. The most polemical proposal of Japanese experts is associated with plans to provide for a possible preemptive strike to destroy the potential enemy's ready-to-launch missiles, thus duplicating the capacity of the existing missile defenses.

Adoption of the doctrine of pre-emptive strike would mean a significant increase in the role of the SDF, which is now strictly limited by the Constitution. Shinzo Abe is considering constitutional reform as one of the priorities of his long-term policy, while his top priority is to change the current interpretation of the Constitution, which prohibits Japan's participation in collective self-defense.

Japan does not have the right to use its missile defense capabilities to protect the United States or any other country from missile attack. Abe has repeatedly stressed that such an imbalance of obligations is not conducive to the strengthening of trust between the allies.

Cooperation between the U.S. and Japan in the field of missile defense has already led to the achievement of a fundamentally new level of coordination between the armed forces of the United States and the Japan Self-Defense Forces, where it has become very difficult to distinguish between Japan's participation in collective self-defense and its observance of the ban on such activities.

Its own set of recommendations for new Guidelines was also prepared in Keidanren, i.e. the headquarters of Japanese business. These include a positive evaluation of the statement by the Cabinet's secretary of March 2013 about possible exceptions to the ban on Japan-produced arms, namely, the exports of components for the future F-35 fighter plane. Nine countries, including the United States, are taking part in the consortium to develop this aircraft. People in Keidanren believe that this statement is not only important from the point of view of the value of F- 35 for the security of Japan, but also from the perspective of preserving and developing the Japanese military-industrial complex and its technological base.

Keidanren analysts believe that the benefits of Japan's possible collaboration with other countries in the development and production of weapons can lead to greater cooperation with allies and friendly countries in matters of foreign policy, to gaining access to the latest foreign technology, and to reduced costs of research and development work.
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