A catch-up of news and views on the Self-Defense Forces and related issues:
- How to respond to China’s new coast guard law, which gives the maritime watchdog military teeth? Forcefully, an LDP panel answers — by beefing up the law, the SDF and coast guard. Tactically, writes Tomohisa Takei, a former MSDF chief of staff — by bridging the gap between the SDF and the Japan Coast Guard. Cautiously, argues law expert Jun Tsuruta — by planning for all eventualities.
- The Cabinet approved a bill last month that would create tougher regulations to restrict the sale of land near SDF bases to foreign firms. The bill has raised concerns about privacy rights, and an intense debate over its provisions and constitutionality is likely, writes Eric Johnston. Even the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner is concerned.
- The SDF provide invaluable assistance in times of disaster, but what would be their role in the event of a military clash over the Senkaku Islands, a cyberterrorist attack — or the collapse of North Korea? These risks need to be discussed, and a consensus reached about what Japan expects from its armed forces, former SDF officer Sadamasa Oue argues.
- Japan’s decision in December to build two new naval vessels equipped with Aegis missile interceptors — an alternative to a scrapped plan to deploy a land-based system — could prompt further armament by potential foes, security experts have warned. Sources have suggested the ships may also be fitted with long-range standoff missiles, which ups the ante somewhat.
- Seventeen more SDF troops dispatched to Djibouti have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total to 21. On Thursday, the Defense Ministry said that the cluster may be linked to four troops who dined out on March 25. Or could a party on March 28 — attended by about 130 people and including sports and drinking sessions — have something to do with it?