Updating of basic defense policy urged

A government advisory panel will propose repealing the nation’s basic defense stance and adopting an updated policy in light of growing threats of terrorism and other security environment changes, sources familiar with the situation said Saturday.

The panel will also recommend that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi relax Japan’s decades-old arms export ban. That is apparently in connection with the possibility of future exports of interceptor missile parts based on joint research for a next-generation missile defense system with the United States.

The 10-member panel, chaired by Tokyo Electric Power Co. adviser Hiroshi Araki, is expected to submit its report to Koizumi in early October.

The panel, formed in January, consists of business, academic and former senior government figures.

The panel plans to mention in the report not only the security threat presented by North Korea but also the possibility of a military clash in the Taiwan Strait, the sources said.

It plans to call for incorporating a framework for an updated basic defense policy in a new National Defense Program Outline to be formulated in November, according to the sources.

The defense policy pursued under the pacifist Constitution derives from the Basic Policy for National Defense that the Cabinet approved in 1957.

Under this policy, Japan follows four main principles. These are supporting U.N. activities, establishing solid foundations essential to Japan’s security, developing effective defense capabilities necessary for self-defense and dealing with external aggression on the basis of Japan-U.S. security arrangements until such time as the United Nations is capable of deterring such aggression.

While the 1956 basic polity is premised on wars between countries, the panel plans to call for a new policy dealing with “new threats and various circumstances” and the expansion of international cooperation by the Self-Defense Forces.