GFJ Commentary

July 22, 2022 

To Overcome This Once-in-a-Century Crisis

of War and Plague


 We have entered the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken many precious lives and directly impacted our daily lives. In addition, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, has undermined the post-WWII international order and, combined with the economic sanctions against Russia, has severely impacted the global economy. This disturbance since WWII is about to pose the greatest geopolitical threat to our country, as it is stimulating countries such as China, which through authoritarian governance similar to Russia, is proclaiming to take territorial possession of the Senkaku Islands and annex Taiwan, and North Korea, which is displaying its possession of nuclear weapons and missiles. The war in Ukraine has taught our country that a unilateral change of status-quo by force can actually occur, that deterrence is necessary to stop the aggressor, and that self-helping efforts are of primary importance and required to gain cooperation from allies as well as support from the international community. Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was concern about a rising risk of conflict in the Taiwan Strait, and many Japanese people began to feel the need for a fundamental change in the post-WWII national security policies.

 The ruling party of the Japanese government has already begun talks to revise the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Program Guidelines, and the Midterm Defense Program by the end of this year. In these in-party discussions, I have repeatedly emphasized the following three insufficiencies in Japan’s current defense capabilities (deterrence, and the capability to resist as well as counter aggression). These issues are inconvenient truths that have also become known through a simulation game of conflict in the Taiwan Strait that was conducted last summer (and has been aired on NHK many times) and in which I participated.

 First, our cyber defense is critically vulnerable. It is important to not only protect our Internet environment but also develop laws that will enable active cyber defense (ACD), which constantly monitors the servers of potential aggressors. Second, we lack the capability to effectively counter (deter) the two thousand or more Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles with the range to reach our country. The anti-missile defenses of Japan and the United States are not strong enough to withstand missile strikes from North Korea, let alone from China or Russia. We cannot protect the survival and peaceful lives of the Japanese people without sufficiently increasing our capability to counter such attacks. Third, we are extremely vulnerable to hybrid warfare that China and Russia could initiate. Government efforts across the ministries and agencies, government-private collaboration, and integration of military and non-military means are necessary to establish a defense against attacks not only on the traditional domains (land, sea, and air), but also through outer space, cyberspace, and electromagnetic waves. For national security reasons, it is also necessary to ensure not only military strength but also resilience in finance, the economy (supply chains), natural resources, energy, food supply, and social infrastructure . The percentage of defense costs in relation to the GDP is not a target but only the result of combining the expenses that are necessary to protect our country. About thirty years ago, when I decided to enter politics, I studied constitutional theory in Japan, and I learned about international relations and national security in the United States, which are at the center of these studies. There, I experienced policymaking at a foreign-policy think tank, and since returning to Japan I have been consistently engaged in diplomatic and national security policies through my positions in the ruling and opposition parties. I believe that now is precisely the time for which I have been preparing, and I intend to actively lead the discussions inside and outside my party.

 Securing children’s futures is an area of policy in which I have invested almost as much energy as I have in national security. In particular, I have focused my efforts on the support of child-rearing families, especially single-parent families, which the COVID-19 pandemic has forced into poverty. From right after the Lower House election last fall, I have attempted, as the chairman of an all-party parliamentary group focused on the care and future of children, to finalize a bill to revise the Child Welfare Act to drastically reform the welfare system for families with children and achieve zero child abuse. In addition, I have been deeply committed to establishing the Children and Families Agency, the formulation of the Basic Act on Children, and establishing a system for delivering food to children in families suffering from poverty. Furthermore, together with my nonpartisan associates, I have invested my political career in the effort to provide fundamental solutions to issues such as abuse, poverty, bullying, and non-attendance to school, which have been negatively affecting children’s growth and learning. We must secure the necessary financial resources for national security, to protect our country’s sovereignty and territory as well as to secure and protect our children’s future, even if this requires issuing government bonds. I believe that it is the government’s responsibility to secure the necessary financial resources, whether for people’s daily lives or national security. I will therefore draw a clear line between such efforts and fiscal austerity. It is all for future generations.

(This is the English translation of an article written by NAGASHIMA Akihisa, Member of the House of Representatives, which originally appeared on the e-Forum “Giron-Hyakushutsu” of GFJ on June 2, 2022.)