|Mt. Fuji Delegations
Speak about Japan’s New Roles
Four members of the Mount Fuji Dialogue Delegation spoke about “Japan’s
New Role in The 21st Century” at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago on April
30, and the event was hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
• Shinichi Kitaoka, also chair of the council on the legal restructuring of Japan’s national defense policy, spoke about recent development of security policies in Japan.
• The Government of Japan adapted new
national security strategies, which enabled Japan’s Self Defense Force
(SDF) to have more proactive contributions to peace in a framework of
• Japan’s Government changed the policy
of exporting weapons in April of last year. The old policy prohibited
Japan from exporting weapons with some exceptions, and didn’t allow Japan
to help other countries which were threatened by big powers and needed
assistance, including money and weapons.
• Why is Japan very cautious about SDF
operations or regulating use of weapons? Kitaoka explained about Japan’s
Constitution Article 9.
• Former Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, now a professor at Takushoku University, said that the 19th century was the century of imperialism and colonization, the 20th century had major wars, while simultaneously the international community made a significant progress in establishing the body of international law. Fifteen years have passed in the 21st century, and some nations have changed the status quo of the international order by use of force or through military interventions.
• He spoke about China’s expanding influence
in the East and South China Sea, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and starting
to construct two new Silk Roads to the west. For example, China has insisted
on a 9-dot line and 9-dash line as its territory and made it into a polder
from the sea, which belonged to the Philippines. The Philippines brought
the issue to the United Nations, and Japan has supported their claim.
• Morimoto said that implementation of
the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines, which were agreed to on
April 27, was very important and encouraged both countries to contribute
to develop security cooperation plans for capacity building measures improving
ASEAN. In addition, U.S. Japan, and Australia should work together to
promote collective ability to address global concerns and regional stability
through trilateral exercise.
• Seiji Maehara, former Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, belongs to an opposition party. He said that change of administration had occurred two times in his tenure as a House Representative, but the US-Japan relation was always placed in the center of foreign diplomacy and security.
• He also said that the order of the international community has been challenged by Islamic State and China’s expanding influence, and Japan had to firmly deal with those issues; thus, he would spare no bipartisan effort to solve them.
• House Representative Isamu Ueda is a member of a discussion group on review and development of security legislation. He outlined the amendment of national security laws. He mentioned two factors about why Japan was changing the laws. One was the change of environment surrounding Japan due to the shift of power balance in the region, which was caused by technological innovations and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Another was instability, such as terrorism and interruptions of free transportation, which could have substantial influence on the security in Japan.
• Before engaging in the amendment of
the laws, Ueda stated that the most important principle was maintaining
policies under the Constitution that strictly limited the use of military
• Clarifying authority of the SDF to use weapons in order to protect U.S. forces against unexpected attacks when U.S. forces are engaging in activities contributing to security of Japan.
• Expanding the areas of participation in international peacekeeping activities. The wider scope of activity includes maintaining waterways, and protecting local citizens and refugees.
• Condition of the use of weapons would be relaxed, so that SDF could participate in wider range of activities.
• Japan would be allowed to exercise collective Self Defense. The change enables SDF to cooperate with U.S. forces from normal to emergency situations that strengthen the deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance.
• The delegation members were asked how
Japanese people reacted to the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines,
which were agreed to on April 27, and Kitaoka answered the question.
• Why are media so negative? Kitaoka answered Chicago Shimpo’s question saying, “They believe that opposing the government is a right thing, and it has become a long-time tradition. In Japan’s diet, it had been a custom that minority parties opposed everything from the major party until 15 years ago. Thus, media believe that they have to oppose the government. It’s too much. You have to understand that if media criticize the government excessively, China and North Korea would benefit from it. I believe that they don’t think enough about it.”
Mount Fuji Delegations in Chicago