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Japan is considering revising its National Security Strategy, which presents medium- to long-term guidelines for defense and foreign policies, at the end of 2022, according to government sources.

The revised strategy will call for enhancing economic security amid China’s increasing assertiveness, the sources said, and the focus is on whether the proposed acquisition of capabilities to strike enemy bases will be included in the new document.

The strategy, intended to cover a period of around 10 years, will be revised for the first time since it was released in December 2013 during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s second administration. The strategy replaced the basic policy on national defense decided in 1957 by the administration of Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather.

The government will also review its National Defense Program Guidelines, which outline targets for defense buildup, and Medium-Term Defense Program, which details buildup plans over the next five years.

The nation’s security situation has deteriorated more than was expected when the guidelines were released in 2013, with China increasingly showing hegemonic behavior, the sources said.

Last month, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a policy speech in parliament that the government will revise the strategy and the two defense buildup papers.

Later, at a meeting of the National Security Council, Kishida gave instructions for work to begin toward the revisions, telling officials to study all options, including the proposal to have the country acquire the capability to strike enemy bases.

The revisions will be made after next summer’s election for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, as Komeito, the junior partner of Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party in the ruling coalition, is cautious about strengthening defense capabilities.

“It would be difficult (to make the revisions) before the election,” said a senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The government expects to make a Cabinet decision on the revised documents after collecting opinions from experts in national security and other fields, sources said.

Ahead of the move, the government will submit legislation on economic security at the next ordinary Diet session starting in January, the sources added.

Enhancing economic security is a key policy of Kishida’s fledgling administration.

The importance of securing strategic goods and preventing outflows of advanced technologies has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic and the intensifying tensions between the United States and China.

But the current National Security Strategy does not present clear principles on such issues and calls for a revision are increasing within the LDP.

Some people say that Japan should swiftly acquire capabilities to attack enemy bases in order to strengthen deterrence, given progress in the development of sophisticated missiles by China and North Korea that are difficult to intercept.

The new strategy is also expected to call for stronger cooperation with the United States, Australia and India under the “Quad” framework and with European countries including Britain and France.

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