Defending Japan

Offshore in a Dangerous Neighbourhood

Defense Minister Kitazawa Talks to WaPo

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Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa
Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa
(source: Sankei)

After meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa found that time to sit down and talk with the Washington Post about China’s new toys, Japanese military development, and ties with the US:

POST: In terms of Japan increasing its capabilities, the secretary of defense, when he was in China, was talking about his interest in seeing whether Japan also wanted to see Japan pursue its own fifth-generation fighter program, perhaps by purchasing U.S. technology or U.S. systems. Is that something that, given China’s modernization, that Japan will look at more seriously?

KITAZAWA: As I mentioned, the Chinese increasing military capability – mainly air and naval power – regarding this trend, Japan is open to its defense capability, mainly focusing on the defense of the southeastern island areas. And at the same time, we are producing what we call a dynamic defense force, which evolves from the traditional base defense capability concept to more of a high-readiness as well as an operating posture in order to deal with such a trend. As for the international trade regarding military equipment as well as production of military equipment, now it is an international trend to do development jointly with several countries, thereby trying to reduce the cost of a program. So we would like to consider measures to accommodate such a trend. This will have a relation to our three principles regarding arms exports, so we would like to have appropriate explorations.

POST: So does that mean you’re going to change your principles?

KITAZAWA: We will continue our studies and considerations. As you will know the basis of Japan is to pursue peace. And so we will permanently abide by this principle. But we also have to deal with the international trends as part of the international community, so we need to have measures to avoid being left behind of the trends. It has nothing to do with … changing the policies completely to become a country that exports its military equipment to other countries, thereby becoming a death march. It’s nothing like that.

It’s an interesting read, but nothing too juicy. I think there is an implied push away from Hatoyama’s devastating handling of the alliance, but again, this is nothing new: this month so far has been proof enough of a sea change.

On a final note, I wonder whether Kitazawa was speaking English during that interview and, as a consequence, who chose the word “death march” above: it is not a good phrase for any Japanese minister to use.

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Written by James

2011/01/14 at 11:06

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