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Defense institute seeks integrated efforts with U.S.

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Amid the changing security situation in East Asia, Japan should be equipped with more flexible and integrated defense capabilities and enhanced coordination among the Self-Defense Forces, the Japan Coast Guard and the U.S. military, according to the 2013 East Asian Strategic Review released Friday.

The annual report, published by the National Institute for Defense Studies Japan, emphasizes that the National Defense Program Guidelines set in 2010 should be revised to address security conditions in East Asia made more volatile by North Korea’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s military modernization.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already said it will review the 2010 guidelines and abolish another midterm defense guideline for fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2015.

The think tank’s report recommends that new defense guidelines focus on more mobile deployment of the SDF to enhance the so-called Dynamic Defense.

The concept was introduced in the 2010 guidelines to pursue flexible SDF deployment capabilities necessary for more intense conflicts, including China’s militaristic rise. The need for such a capability was also made clear in the response to the March 11, 2011, disasters.

Especially regarding the defense of remote islands, the report emphasizes that Japan should have a comprehensive grasp of expected situations and clearly define the role of the SDF.

One focus should be strengthening the SDF’s amphibious capability through joint drills with the U.S. military at U.S. bases such as in Guam, said the institute, which is the Defense Ministry’s core policy research arm.

The government has already earmarked ¥10 billion in the fiscal 2013 budget to purchase four amphibious vehicles, but even if this equipment is procured the SDF will still lack the capability for amphibious assault operations.

While information and surveillance capabilities have been enhanced recently, aerial defense needs further beefing up, the report says.

It also says the Air Self-Defense Force should add a fighter squadron to defend the southwest islands, including the Senkakus where Chinese activity has been intense.