MINISTRY OF DEFENSE – 2021
In the year 2020, not only did the entire world face unprecedented difficulties due to COVID-19, but various security challenges and destabilizing factors became more tangible and acute, and the international order based on universal values, which has underpinned the peace and prosperity of the international community, has been greatly tested.
Looking at the situation around Japan, China has continued its unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas. China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels are sighted almost daily in the contiguous zone surrounding the Senkaku Islands, an inherent part of the territory of Japan, and repeatedly intrude into Japan’s territorial waters. Furthermore, there have also been incidents of CCG vessels approaching Japanese fishing boats while intruding into Japanese territorial waters, further making the situation serious. Against this backdrop, China entered into force the China Coast Guard
Law in February 2021. The CCG Law includes problematic provisions in terms of their inconsistency with international law. Sources of inconsistency include, among others, ambiguity as to geographical areas the CCG Law applies and how the rules governing the use of weapons are implemented. The CCG Law must not be allowed to infringe on the legitimate interests of the relevant countries including Japan. Furthermore, the raising of tensions in the East China Sea and other sea areas is completely unacceptable.
In addition, North Korea is proceeding with ballistic missile development at an extremely rapid pace. It launched ballistic missiles of a new type in 2021, and such military trends, including nuclear and missile development, pose grave and imminent threats to Japan’s security.
The Indo-Pacific region is the core of the world’s vitality, and at the same time, it faces various security challenges. In the midst of the changing global power balance, the importance of the region is further increasing. In order to counter these challenges in the security environment, it is essential not only to strengthen Japan’s own defense capabilities and expand the roles we can fulfill, but also to closely cooperate with countries that share the same fundamental values.
In particular, cooperation with the United States, our only ally, is of paramount importance. Since the new U.S. administration took office, I have continued to pursue close bilateral cooperation through a defense ministerial meeting, the Japan-U.S. “2+2” meeting, and other opportunities. I also believe that the fact that the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting was held as the first face-to-face meeting with foreign leader since the President Biden’s inauguration testifies that the United States also attaches great importance to the Japan-U.S. Alliance. The Alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the region, and we will strive to further strengthen its deterrence and response capabilities in order to further solidify the unshakable bond of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
Furthermore, Japan is promoting the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) vision, based on the concept that achieving a free and open rules-based order will enhance peace and prosperity across the entire region and throughout the world. The MOD/SDF will further contribute to the peace and stability of the region and the international community through active cooperation with countries that share Japan’s vision of the FOIP, including not only the United States as our ally, but also Australia, India, European countries including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, as well as Canada and New Zealand.
With every step taken along the path of a peace-loving nation, Japan has become a country that proudly flies the flag of universal values, such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for fundamental human rights. As the flag bearer of universal values in the Indo-Pacific region, joining hands with like-minded partners, we must cherish freedom, have faith in democracy, be deeply resentful at the failure to protect human rights, and resolutely oppose to any attempt to change the order by coercion. SDF personnel perform their demanding duties every day with this determination to protect the nation of Japan, including these values that have taken root deep in the
hearts and minds of our people.
This white paper firmly demonstrates to readers not only at home, but also abroad that the MOD/SDF have unwavering will and ability to defend Japan even in the midst of a drastically changing security environment, alongside showing the high level of transparency regarding the activities and efforts of the MOD/SDF.
The MOD/SDF will diligently engage in our duties on the front lines of national defense at all times, boldly fulfilling our responsibilities to safeguard lives and peaceful livelihoods of our people, and the integrity of our territory, waters, and airspace, and will do our utmost to ensure the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region and the international community.
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