/

LDP wants more might for SDF, and Ospreys

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

The Liberal Democratic Party called Friday for a more muscular role for the Self-Defense Forces in defending Japan and fulfilling the nation’s responsibility as a U.S. ally.

In its draft proposal for a 10-year defense outline, the party’s Defense and Security Committee says the SDF should be given more amphibious capabilities and equipped with the controversial Osprey transport aircraft.

Its National Defense Program Guidelines say the SDF should have capabilities similar to the U.S. Marine Corps, and introduce more amphibious vehicles and MV-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft, whose deployment to the Futenma airbase sparked much outcry across Japan due to its spotty safety record.

The panel also said Japan should start discussing the possibility of increasing the SDF’s capability to attack an enemy base amid more bellicose threats by North Korea to launch missiles.

The Defense Ministry is slated to compile a midterm report for the defense program in June based on the LDP’s proposal.

After taking office, Abe instructed the ministry to review the 2010 National Defense Program Guidelines so that the SDF can play a more active role in defending Japan amid intensifying security situations.

Abe called for coming up with better ways to cope with the current reality in which North Korea continues to pursue nuclear arms and China increasingly flexes its military muscle near Japanese waters as it claims sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands.

As part of Abe’s efforts, defense spending was increased for the first time in 11 years in the fiscal 2013 budget that was enacted Wednesday, including ¥2.5 billion to procure four amphibious vehicles.

The LDP security panel’s outline calls for continuous budget increases as well as enhancing equipment research and development.