The National Security Council plans to take the lead in crafting Japan’s military buildup — a move expected to give the Prime Minister’s Office more say in selecting defense equipment, a government source said Saturday.
The aim of the new arrangement is to make the allocation of the defense budget more effective through top-down decision making, including for new security areas such as cyber and space. Under the current format, budget requests from the Self-Defense Forces are taken into account and coordinated, the source said.
The NSC, established in December 2013 under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, formulates Japan’s key security policies, with its permanent secretariat set up in the Cabinet Secretariat. It is chaired by the prime minister and attended by the chief Cabinet secretary, the defense minister and the foreign minister to discuss mid- to long-term security policies.
The NSC will introduce the new decision-making system starting from the next midterm defense buildup plan, which spans fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2023. The plan is set to be decided on at the end of the year, the source said.
Previously, the defense buildup plan, which sets specific targets for defense equipment and funding and is compiled every five years, was approved by the Cabinet after being coordinated by the Finance Ministry and the staff offices of the Air, Maritime and Ground self-defense forces.
But a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said such a system tended to “fix budget allocations among the three branches of the SDF.”
The NSC, meanwhile, will aim to decide on the most appropriate defense buildup by taking into account the military rise of China and the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs, as the SDF may need to coordinate with the U.S. military in the event of emergencies on the Korean Peninsula, the source said.
It will likely seek to improve Japan’s defensive capabilities in the air and sea against potential missile attacks by North Korea, it said.
As for space, cyberspace and electronic warfare — emerging new security areas in which Japan has been left behind — specialized units to cope with the three areas are expected to be established under a new command.
The NSC also hopes to allocate more funding to increase the number of SDF personnel at the command, the source added.
Abe said at a New Year’s news conference Thursday that his administration will “strive to strengthen our defenses, not just as an extension of existing (practices) but in a way that’s truly necessary to protect the citizens.”
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