National / Politics

Advisory panel in works to speed up review of Japan defense guidelines

Kyodo

An advisory panel will be set up to expedite the review of the national defense buildup guidelines toward the year-end deadline, according to a source.

The National Defense Program Guidelines establish the defense capability objectives that Japan should achieve over the next decade.

The panel, which will include defense experts and academics, will discuss strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities in space, cyberspace and electronic warfare, the source said.

The Defense Ministry aims to compile a revised version of the National Defense Program Guidelines based on the panel’s discussions and get the Cabinet to sign off on it by the end of this year. The panel’s first meeting might be held Wednesday.

Headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the panel will meet twice a month with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and other ministers, because the government is hoping to get specialists to endorse controversial projects, including Aegis Ashore, the land-based missile defense plan.

The members will give advice mainly on how to carry out cross-functional operations across the Self-Defense Forces to deal with cyberattacks and potential electromagnetic weapon assaults, as well as utilize artificial intelligence.

When the Defense Ministry reviewed the defense guidelines in 2013, it set up an internal committee to make a draft before submitting a proposal to an advisory panel. Some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have criticized this style of action for lacking transparency.

Abe has instructed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera to re-examine the current guidelines, approved by the Cabinet in December 2013, amid mounting concerns about North Korea’s rapidly improving nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and China’s military expansion.

Onodera has said it should be reviewed from the viewpoint of “what we truly need to protect the people, rather than simply building on” existing principles.

Apart from the guidelines, the ministry also plans to compile a new five-year defense spending and procurement plan by the end of the year.