The House of Representatives election is now underway. Representatives of each party are appealing for support for their policies on TV and in newspapers every day. What about diplomacy and security? I compared the pledges of each party.
The Liberal Democratic Party
At first glance, what attracts one’s attention when looking at the party’s pledges is the large emphasis on ” economic security. Even in the official pledge pamphlet, it is mentioned before diplomacy and security. The main content is that the government will formulate an “Economic Security Maintenance Law” (a tentative name) to protect the supply of vital goods and prevent the unauthorized flow of goods and technology overseas.
In the area of cyber defense, which is the key to preventing technology leaks, the law calls for the development of advanced security personnel and emphasizes the improvement of intelligence (information gathering and analysis) capabilities in the area of economic security. In terms of intelligence capabilities, it is also refreshing to see that the government has proposed to strengthen the Public Security Intelligence Agency, which has been known mainly for its investigations of extremists and terrorist organizations.
As for the foreign and security policy, there is a phrase that clearly criticizes China, “We insist on asserting what we should assert and strongly call for responsible action on various issues related to human rights, including those of the Uyghur, Tibet, Mongolian people, and Hong Kong. Compared to the stance of the Japanese government, which has avoided mentioning China by name in the past, the Japanese government has put China in the forefront. It may be that within the LDP there is a growing sense that Japan should take a stronger stance against China than ever before.
What is worrisome, however, is that while he mentions human rights issues, he makes no mention of Russia, Belarus, or Myanmar, which have also been pointed out as having human rights problems. In particular, Russia and Myanmar have their own politicians who are deeply involved in these issues, so it may be difficult to take up these issues.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the LDP’s security pledge is its announcement that it will ” substantially strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities starting in fiscal 2022,” and then goes on to cite specific figures, such as “We will aim to increase defense-related spending, keeping in mind the defense budget-to-GDP ratio target of NATO countries (2% or more). This is because the military power of North Korea and China has been dramatically strengthened in recent years, and the threat from these countries has been increasing, and the trend is for other countries, especially the U.S., to work together to deal with China. Historically, Japan’s defense spending has been in the ” 1% of GDP ” range for a long time, so it is a rather ambitious pledge to double it.
As a separate defense capability, ” enemy base attack capability ” has often been a topic of debate, but the pledge says only that “Japan will strengthen its capability to deal with ballistic missiles and other missiles, and promote new initiatives to improve deterrence, including the possession of the capability to intercept ballistic missiles and other missiles within the territory of other countries. It is somewhat lacking in specificity.
Security issues are not included in the six items of the “priority policies” set forth in the election pledge, and the seventh item in the manifesto is ” Foreign Relations for Stable Peace and Prosperity. The security policy is almost the same as that of the LDP, basically calling for the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The differences with the LDP are that it states a strong desire for nuclear abolition and will promote the creation of an environment for the ratification of the Nuclear Weapons Convention, and it mentions restrictions on the development of future AI weapons, so-called LAWS (Autonomous Lethal Weapons System), for which there is cautious debate abroad from a humanitarian standpoint.
In the area of diplomacy, the report clearly states its condemnation of the military regime in Myanmar and its call for democratization. However, on the other hand, the language against China is much more moderate than that of the LDP.
The Rikken DPJ
The main thrust of the Rikken DPJ’s pledge is not so different from that of the LDP. It says, “We will promote multilateral cooperation with Australia, India, and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, especially with neighboring countries, and we will strengthen cooperation with other countries to pursue a realistic foreign and security policy. With regard to China, it names China quite critically, saying, “China’s unilateral provocations against Japan in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands and its attempts to change the status quo in the South China Sea based on its unilateral claims violate international law. In particular, with regard to the defense of the Senkakus, he has pledged to “strengthen the system of territorial security and the Japan Coast Guard,” and to enact the “Territorial Security and Coast Guard System Enhancement Bill.
It is also positive about economic security, saying, “We will formulate an economic security strategy and promote comprehensive national power.
The LDP differs from the LDP in that it first calls for a halt to the construction of the new Henoko base in Okinawa and opposes the introduction of Aegis System-equipped ships, which the government is promoting as a replacement for the Aegis Ashore, on the grounds that they will not be able to perform the role of constant surveillance and protection and will overburden the SDF. As for the introduction of an enemy base attack capability and stand-off missiles capable of striking from a distance, the government does not oppose them outright, but says it will carefully consider them in light of its interpretation of the Constitution.
As for the security-related law, which was a major point of contention in the last election, the government is not strongly opposed to it now and will “take necessary measures such as abolishing the unconstitutional parts.
Another feature is the strong emphasis on human rights diplomacy. In addition to the Uyghurs, Hong Kong, and North Korea, it also mentions Myanmar, which was not part of the LDP pledge. It also promises to improve the system for accepting refugees in Japan.
[The Japan Communist Party
Criticizes subordination to the U.S. and calls for the abolition of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. However, it advocates a treaty of friendship between Japan and the U.S. as equals, rather than as enemies. It has also pledged to abolish the Security Treaty, stop the massive purchase of U.S. weapons such as the F-35, and stop the use of aircraft carriers.
On the other hand, he has strongly criticized the hegemony of the Japanese government toward China. In fact, he has strongly criticized the weakness of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in dealing with China. However, its approach to China is somewhat abstract and soft, saying that China should not be militarily encircled, but rather a regional peace order that encompasses China.
The Japan Restoration Association
The Japan Restoration Association (JRA) has a policy of “diplomacy and security that is grounded in reality and contributes to the world,” which is not so different from that of the LDP. It advocates the elimination of the 1% GDP quota on defense spending and the strengthening of the defense system against terrorism, cyber and outer space. The government has also proposed some specific policies, as follows.
“Revise the Self-Defense Forces Law and the Japan Coast Guard Law to stipulate measures for vigilant surveillance by Self-Defense Forces units and the authority to be exercised in such surveillance, and to specify that the Coast Guard’s duties include guarding territorial waters”, “Create a CIA-like intelligence agency and enact a law to prevent espionage on a par with other countries”, etc. Interestingly, in response to the issue of the Senkaku Islands, he stated that the Japanese government would “strengthen its effective control over the islands through the exercise of administrative authority,” a point that the Japanese government tends to avoid. It also pledges to improve the treatment of Self-Defense Force personnel.
The National Democratic Party of Japan (NDP)
While emphasizing the basic stance that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of the Japanese government’s strategy, the National Democratic Party of Japan (NDP), rather than the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is pushing the idea of ” protecting one’s own country by oneself ” and aiming for an independent security system. It is also strongly advocating the strengthening of the Japan Coast Guard system and the strengthening of cooperation with the Self-Defense Forces. In addition, it emphasizes economic security and the development of laws to prevent the outflow of technology to foreign countries. One difference between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan is that the Liberal Democratic Party is proactive about reviewing security-related laws and the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, and furthermore believes that the construction of the U.S. Henoko base in Okinawa should be stopped.
In addition, he believes that the construction of the U.S. military base in Henoko should be stopped.
It is based on opposition to the security policy of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and it calls for the abolition of security-related laws, revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, and a halt to the construction of the Henoko base in Okinawa. It also insists that the Self-Defense Forces be dispatched overseas only in the event of an earthquake or other disaster overseas.
[Social Democratic Party
Opposes the Self-Defense Forces strengthening its forces in the Southwest Islands and conducting military exercises in Japan and the U.S. on the grounds that they are increasing tensions with China. The construction of the Henoko base in Okinawa should be stopped. It also advocates the signing and ratification of a nuclear weapons convention.
With regard to the capability to attack enemy bases, he argues that Japan should possess the necessary level of capability to protect the lives and property of its citizens. He has pledged to seek a debate in the Diet on legislation, including the Constitution. He also argues that the creation of a foreign intelligence agency, which could be called Japan’s version of the CIA, should be discussed.
Why security is not an issue
The above are the security policies of each party, but in reality, security has not been a major issue in the election campaign. In the last election in 2017, the merits and demerits of the “security-related law” enacted in 2015 and enforced in 2016, as well as the “constitutional amendment,” were the main issues, but the situation is quite different from that time.
The main reason for this, of course, is that voters’ attention has shifted to corona measures and economic issues, but in addition, Japan’s security environment has become more difficult. North Korea forced its sixth nuclear test in 2017, and at the same time repeatedly launched missiles, which put Japan under the threat of “North Korean nuclear missiles”.
Although expectations of denuclearization were temporarily raised by the subsequent blitz of U.S.-North Korea summit meetings, that atmosphere has completely passed, and the country has been repeatedly launching missiles again since this September.
China has also crushed democracy by forcibly eliminating the democratic faction in Hong Kong and has also suppressed the Uyghurs on a large scale. It is rapidly strengthening its war potential with missiles, fighter jets, aircraft carriers and submarines, and there are growing concerns about a Taiwanese contingency.
Normally, in such a situation where the threat to Japan is rising, security policy is extremely important and should be a major point of contention. However, this has not been the case. This is because the increased threat to Japan has meant that there is no longer a significant difference in security policy among the leading political parties.
Of course, if you look at the details, there are a number of differences, but the major opposition parties have also made it clear that they are tough on China and North Korea and that the Japan-U.S. alliance should be strengthened to deal with them. The major opposition parties, which in the past would have been ideologically opposed to Japan’s military buildup, are finding it difficult to make this an issue.
A symbolic example of this is the Liberal Democratic Party’s proposal that Japan’s defense spending should be at least 2% of GDP. If the LDP had proposed this at the time of the last lower house election, the opposition parties would have rallied around it, shouting “No war preparations! “No to war preparations!” “No to subordination to the U.S.! and “Against war preparations!
Both the ruling and opposition parties are in a quandary. Voters should check the security policies of each party.
The reality is that the pledges made by each party, including the LDP, are generally abstract and do not lead to concrete discussions.
The LDP, too, is still suffering from the aftereffects of the mess over the withdrawal of the Aegis Ashore, and is reluctant to talk about it because of the scars on its shins. In other words, the opposition should be on the offensive. In other words, the opposition parties, which are supposed to be on the offensive, and the ruling party, which is supposed to be on the receiving end, are both in a state of limbo.
However, if you look at the pledges of each party in detail, there are differences. As mentioned above,
Reporting and writing： Fumitaro Kuroi