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  1. 2014.12.03 [일본-노트] Changing Contents of Japanese Defense White Paper

[일본-노트] Changing Contents of Japanese Defense White Paper

[연구] Research 2014. 12. 3. 11:03

Changing Contents of Japanese Defense White Paper


Japanese Defense White Paper

In order to trace the changes in the Japan’s defense white papers, we can apply here David Baldwin proposed as the 4 factors. He argued that in order to do a scientific analysis on a nation’s security policy and understand its goal, we need observe first against what threats the policy is established; second 2) For whom?; third protecting what values, and lastly, how much security should be provided.[1]



1)      From What Threats? (in order of discussion)


Major threats identified

Notable Changes/Important Points

Threats perceived in both international and Asia-pacific regions (2005-2008)


-    Terrorism

-    Transfer and proliferation of WMDs

-    Review of national defense policies and activities of major countries: discussed in order of U.S., Russia, Europe, Korean Peninsula, and China

-    Senkaku/Diaoyu islands not addressed


-     Terrorism, WMD, Iran,

-     China and India’s “rapid development”(2006); “Changes to “traditional relationships”(2007)

-     North Korea

-     Changed order of countries reviewed since 2006 White Paper: 1. U.S.; 2. Korean Peninsula, 3. China, 4. Russia, and others

-     Chindia

-     Senkaku/Diaoyu islands not addressed


-      “terrorism continues to occur”

-      transfer and proliferation of WMDs

-      North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues

-      China “working to further modernize its military”

-      Senkaku/Diaoyu islands addressed once

Asia-pacific oriented threat perception begins to dominate (2009-2010)


-    Terrorism

-    Transfer and proliferation of the WMD and ballistic missiles

-    Piracy, outer space, cyber space activities, epidemics

-    Asia-Pacific region, “elements of uncertainty and instability are persisting”

-          “uncertainty” “instability” emphasis to describe the region

-          Senkaku/Diaoyu islands addressed once


-    complicated and uncertain international security environment”

-    Transfer and proliferation of WMDs, terrorism

-    Korean peninsula (sinking of the Cheonan vessel)

-    China’s “international presence”, “military modernization”

-    Japan-Russia navy vessels and aircrafts near Japan intensifying

-    Modernization of Southeast Asian countries’ militaries

-    India and Pakistan’s military potential (ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads)

-      Increased emphasis on China’s growing presence

-      Escalation in the vicinity of Japan (North Korea, Japan-Russia, Southeast Asian countries)

-      Senkaku/Diaoyu islands addressed once


-     Earthquake

-     U.S’s war on terror (Osama bin Laden killed)

-     North Korea, China, Russia


China’s maritime activities, Asia-Pacific emphasis dominates (2012-2014)


-      Reduction of U.S.’s defense spending (its “Rebalancing toward Asia-Pacific region”)

-      North Korea’s transition to a new regime

-      China’s maritime activities in waters near Japan

-      Transfer and proliferation of WMDs

-      “Complex and diverse regional conflicts”

-    China’s maritime activities begin to be heavily addressed since the 2012 report


-    Senkaku/Diaoyu islands begins to be addressed heavily in line with China’s increased naval activities in the region


-    “destabilizing factors… increasingly tangible, acute, and serious”

-    “Factors of opacity and uncertainty such as issues of territorial rights and the reunification remain”

-    military modernization of “neighboring states”

-    China’s “intrusion into Japan’s territorial waters and airspace”

China (“territorial rights”):

Korean peninsula (“reunification” problem)


-    “Opaque and uncertain factors such as issues of territorial rights and reunification remain in the vicinity of Japan”

-    Increase in the number of “gray-zone situations”, that is “neither purely peacetime nor contingencies, over territory, sovereignty and maritime economic interests”

-    Military modernization of neighboring states

-    Asia-Pacific region “becoming more serious”


So following the order, what we have found is that, based on the 2005-2014 defense white papers, Japan’s sources of threats gradually transformed from international to asia-pacific, region-specific perception of threats. Beginning from 2005 to 2008 the defense papers have identified threats more or less in both the international and the Asia-pacific region. As seen in the table, major international threats are the terrorism, transfer and proliferation of WMDs, and in regards to the Asia-pacific region, the threats are North Korea’s asymmetric capabilities, and China’s rise. A notable change is the absence or little mentioning of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands issue. As you can see 2005-2007 reports did not address the islands, while 2008 report addressed it just once. Also, in reference to the defense policies of major countries Japan lookout for: While the 2005 report reviewed countries in order of U.S., Russia, Europe, Korean Peninsula, and China, starting from 2006 report the order is changed in terms of U.S., Korean peninsula, China, Russia, and then others.


From 2009 to 2011, the defense papers delve more heavily into threats in the Asia-Pacific region. While terrorisms and other international threats are mentioned, much heavier weight is given on the emphasis that the Asia-pacific region is pervaded with uncertainty and instability. The reports during these years also increasingly address China’s growing presence although the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue remains low profile in the papers. Japan also takes important notes of military modernization of other Asian countries in the vicinity of Japan.


From 2012 to 2014, the reports are significantly dominated by the idea of China threat, especially in reference to the reports of China’s maritime activities. As you can see, the international threat sources like the WMDs, that were discussed as foremost in previous reports, these recent reports like the 2012 addresses them only after the discussion of North Korean factor and most importantly China’s maritime activities. 2013 and 2014 are especially direct in addressing the problems of territorial rights as the direct major threats to Japan. As noted on the right column, it is important to note that it is from the 2012 report that Senkaku/Diaoyu islands territorial dispute becomes heavily reported in the defense paper.


2)      For Whom? And What Values?


For Whom? And What Values?

Notable Changes


-    International community and peace

-    expanded beyond “national defense” to “maintenance of regional order” and “global cooperation”; “The values to be protected… are extending from “national interests” to “the common values of the region or the international community”” (2005)

-    “of the nation and the people”, to “protect lives, bodies and properties of the people, and to minimize the effects on people’s lives and economy”(2008)

-    International community, regional perspective


-    (in addition) security in the “Asia-Pacific region and beyond”

-      Asia-Pacific stability and peace added


-    July 1 approval of the Cabinet Decision on Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan’s Survival and Protect its People.

-    Establishment of the NSC in December 2013

-    December 2013, Japan’s first National Security Strategy was decided, which defines Japan’s goal as to “realize its own security as well as peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region from Japan’s stance as a Proactive Contribution to Peace based on the principle of international cooperation.

-      Clear emphasis on its people (priority)


Moving on, in regards to the second and third factors of Baldwin, for whom and for what values, the reports also reflect a similar transition from the international-oriented perspective to a more regional approach. As you can see in the left column, the 2005-2008 stresses the values like maintaining order and promoting global cooperation,” “international community,” extending from “national interests”. Diction-wise, it is evident that the community orientation remains in the policy direction, while providing security for its own people.


The 2009 report is notable for transition towards a more regional scope: in addition to the international peace, the report emphasizes further that Japan’s security policy should stabilize the Asia-Pacific region. Another notable transition can be seen from the 2014 report, where a proactive, Japan-oriented national interest and values are brought back to the fore, which can be seen through for instance “Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan’s Survival and Protect Its People, Establishment of the NSC and Japan’s first National Security Strategy which defines Japan’s goals as to “realize its own security as well as peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region from Japan’s stance”: an implication of increased prioritization of its people and what they define now as their interests.



3)      How Much Security?


How Much Security?

Notable Changes


-    More activism is required – “Japan needs to act more flexibly and appropriately to respond to increasing expectations for Japan’s involvement”

Gradual increase in the emphasis on the need of more security via transformation of Japan’s status-quo


-    “Developing Dynamic Defense Force” (Following the 2010 National Defense Program Guidelines), modernization (new fighter aircrafts F-35A)


-    Along the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” three approaches will be promoted: 1) Japan’s own efforts; 2) Strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance; and 3) Active promotion of security cooperation

-    “Building a Dynamic Joint Defense Force”


Under the fourth factor, the reports also show that there is a general trend that promotes a more active, proactive efforts for secuity, especially in order to secure the environment near Japan. Some evidences can be found in 2009 report which stated that “Japan needs to act more”; 2012 report following the 2010 National Defense Program Guidelines stated the need to develop dynamic defense force and modernization of Japan’s military capabilities. 2014 report is more straightforward in asking for more security efforts, for instance, along the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” the report states that the three approaches should be promoted: first increasing Japan’s own efforts; 2) strengthening Japan-U.S. Alliance, and third active promotion of security cooperation (bilateral and multilateral frameworks).


According to NDPG (National Defense Program Guidelines)


Basic Ideas

1976 NDPG (October 29)

-          The concept of Basic Defense Capability

-          Maintain “a minimum-necessary defense force” as an independent nation… “rather than coping with a direct military threat to Japan”

1995 NDPG (November 28)

-          Basically follow the concept of Basic Defense Capability

-          Extended in scope of operations: “Dealing with various contingencies such as major disasters”, “contributing” to regional security, in “defense of the nation”

2004 NDPG (December 10)

-          “Being able to work independently and proactively on implementing “ PKO activities

2010 NDPG (December 17)

-          Build up a “Dynamic Defense Force (Not bound by the concept of Basic Defense Capability)”

-          For the stability of the Asia-Pacific and global environment in “a dynamic manner”

2013 NDPG (December 17)

-          Build up of a “Dynamic Joint Defense Force”

-          Respond to increasingly severe security environment, and carry out various activities… flexibility based on joint operations


As a last note, the National Defense Program Guidelines are another clear evidence for Japan’s transition towards proactivism. For instance, the 1976 NDPG was established based on the concept of Basic defense capability, maintaining a minimum-necessary defense force.” Unlike the 1976 NDPG, the contrast becomes most evident in the 2010 and 2013 NDPG which basically stated the need to build a “Dynamic Defense Force” an idea that is not bound by the original concept of Basic Defense minimum-necessary Capability.

[1] David Baldwin, “The Concept of Security,” Review of International Studies, (January 1997), pp. 5-26.

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