Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Submission from the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies


I.   Summary of findings

  1.  The primary mission of the Japanese Ministry of Defence is still the defence of the Japanese home islands.

  2.  Changes in Japan's security environment since the 1990's have caused major shifts in traditional Japanese security policies, though these shifts remain at odds with conservative elements of the Japanese population who continue to resist changes to the pacifist constitution.

  3.  Policy-makers now seek to normalise Japan's military status in two different ways: as a reliable partner with its main ally the US, and as a responsible member of international society through active participation in the United Nations.

  4.  International Peace Cooperation Activities have become the primary mission abroad for Japanese forces.

  5.  Japanese peacekeeping forces are still hobbled by Diet-imposed rules related to interpretations of the pacifist constitution.

  6.  In addition to peacekeeping, Japanese forces are deployed in support of the US Global War on Terror (GWOT).

  7.  Elements of the Japanese government and LDP are trying to draft a General Law to replace the ad hoc laws on supporting missions for the GWOT.

  8.  Japan is playing a large role in Afghanistan, both as a provider of official development aid to the Karzai government but also as an active development partner.

  9.  Japan is seeking closer ties with NATO and is carrying out more joint activities with NATO.

  10.  Japan is developing an interest in the theory and practice of the comprehensive approach and has sent a number of observers, academics, and officials to the West to learn more about civil-military co-operation (CIMIC) activities.

  11.  Japan is at a crossroads. It has been shifted by events, by its main ally, and by its leaders, from its Cold War position of strong economic policies combined with passive security and foreign policies.

  12.  Although policy-makers display a desire to be involved in world affairs like a "normal" country, there remain significant sections of Japanese society uncomfortable with the implications of the changes.

II.   Findings in more detail

  1.  The primary mission of Japan's defence forces remains the defence of the home islands of Japan. According to the 2007 Defense of Japan White Paper, Japan is making efforts to develop its defence capabilities in line with the present Constitution, while abstaining from any action that causes military unease in the region. Japan will continue to follow the three main strands of military policy, including civilian control of the military, observation of the Three Non-Nuclear Principles,[1] as well as maintaining the current Japan-US Security arrangements.

  2.  Changes in Japan's security environment since the 1990's have caused major shifts in traditional Japanese security policies. The Yoshida Doctrine, named after the post-war prime minister who formulated it, was gradually overturned by several events. This policy of focusing Japan's foreign policy efforts into the economic sphere, while relying on a US defence and nuclear posture was eroded by a sequence of events:

    (a) US and international pressure on Japan after the first Gulf War in which Japan was severely criticized for "cheque-book diplomacy", rather than risking its own troops in combat or peacekeeping missions.

    (b) The revelation in 1994 in a Japanese newspaper that an undetermined number of Japanese nationals had been abducted from the Japanese mainland by special teams of North Korean agents. These citizens were to be used to train North Korean spies in Japanese language and customs so that they might pass as Japanese abroad.

    (c) The first phase of the North Korean nuclear crisis 1992-95.

    (d) China's missile-firing exercises, naval and air force live-fire drills and integrated ground, naval, and air force exercises off the strait of Formosa, indicating Chinese resolve toward the Taiwan issue.

    (e) The launch by North Korea of missiles over and beyond Japanese airspace in 1998.

    (f) The discovery of at least two submarine craft from North Korea in South Korean coastal waters in 1998.

    (g) The discovery in 1999 of a spy vessel off the Japanese Noto Peninsula.

    (h) The discovery of submerged Chinese submarines near Okinawa in 2006 (the Kitty Hawk incident).

    (i) China's successful Anti-Satellite Test in January 2007.

  3.  Policy-makers now seek to normalise Japan's military status in two different ways: as a reliable partner with its main ally the US, and as a responsible member of the United Nations. In 2004, Japan formulated the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG 2004), which set two objectives for Japan's security: to prevent any threat from directly reaching Japan, and to improve the international security environment. This was to be realized by the Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP) for fiscal 2005 to fiscal 2009. This has been the mechanism enabling Japan to build up its defence capability. As of 2007, Japanese defence doctrine has also emphasized responding to new threats and diverse contingencies, including responding to terrorist/insurgent attacks, as well as enhancing counter-missile abilities through intelligence-gathering, warning, and surveillance.

  4.  Peacekeeping has become the primary mission abroad for Japanese forces, although Japanese peacekeeping forces are still hobbled by Diet-imposed rules related to interpretations of the pacifist constitution. Following Japan's first deployment of election monitors in 1992 to Angola, Japan has deployed an increasing number of peacekeeping operations (PKO), election monitoring operations (EMO) as well as disaster relief operations (DRO). The two laws passed that made these missions possible are the International Peace Cooperation Law and the Law Concerning Dispatch of International Disaster Relief Teams which both came into force in 1992.
CountryMission Type Term
El SalvadorEMO1994
Golan HeightsPKO1996
Bosnia & HerzegovinaEMO 1998-2000
East TimorPKO/DRO1999
East TimorPKO2002-04
Syria Golan HeightsPKO 2007-08

  5.  Japanese peacekeeping forces are still hobbled by Diet-imposed rules, related to interpretations of the pacifist constitution. According to a Japanese government official, restrictions placed on Japanese PKO missions make them frustrating partners for other countries. When the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) tried to push a PKO law through the Japanese Diet in 1990, it was blocked by opposition parties;[2] the resulting 1991 law was the result of political compromises with other coalition partners,[3] which necessitated the watering down of the law. In addition, there is a conservative anti-militarist culture in the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, which checks all draft legislation to ensure it is constitutional before it is submitted to the Diet. The International Peace Cooperation Law contains "the Five Principles", which specify the conditions under which Japanese forces may be deployed in PKO missions:

    (i) A cease-fire accord must have already been reached.

    (ii) Japan's participation must have the consent of all parities to the conflict.

    (iii) The UN mission must be carried out with complete impartiality.

    (iv) Japanese personnel must withdraw if the above three conditions are not met.

    (v) Japanese personnel can only use firearms to defend themselves or personnel under their protection.

  6.  In addition to peacekeeping, Japanese forces are deployed in support of the US Global War on Terror (GWOT). These missions have been legalised in two important ad hoc laws called the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law and the Law Concerning the Special Measures on the Implementation of Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance and Support Activities for Ensuring Security in Iraq. The "Anti-terrorism Law" was passed in November 2001 in response to the events of September 11. This law provides for the deployment of Self Defense Forces (SDF) to cooperation and support activities, search and rescue activities, and disaster relief for affected people. According to the law, the SDF can operate in Japan, on the high seas, in space, and in countries which allow Japan's involvement. The international community, led by the US, implemented Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)- Maritime Interdiction Operation in the Indian Ocean to block terrorists from escaping using marine routes, and to prevent the proliferation of weapons, ammunition, and narcotics. Japanese supply vessels and Aegis destroyers have been involved in the delivery of water and fuel to allied vessels, the conducting of search and rescue activities, and finally, the delivery of supplies for refugees when requested by the UNHCR. In January 2008, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda was able to force through an extension of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law despite the opposition of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which had threatened to block the law with its hold on the Upper House. In order to do this, Fukuda employed a rarely-used overriding power to push the law through, expending a lot of time, energy, and political capital in the process. Although Fukuda is a pan-Asianist in his foreign policy outlook, he has made a point of simultaneously strengthening ties with the US. The Iraq Reconstruction Law was passed in July 2003 in response to the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1483 in May of that same year. The first contingent of GSDF was deployed in Samawah, Iraq in January 2004 to carry out reconstruction and medical relief, while MSDF and ASDF units carried out logistical missions, bring supplies from Japan to Kuwait, and serving as in-theatre airlift component for coalition forces.

  7.  Elements of the Japanese government and LDP are trying to draft a new "General Law" to replace the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law for supporting missions for the GWOT. In January 2008, two task forces were established to draft a new General Law which will replace the current arrangements. One is within the LDP, while the other is within Government, chaired by the Cabinet Office, containing representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Defense, the Peacekeeping Operations Bureau (an adjunct to the Cabinet Office), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since the current law is due to expire by January 2009, Fukuda must try to pass this new "General Law" before then.[4]

  8.  Japan is playing a large role in Afghanistan, both as a provider of economic assistance to the Karzai government, but also as a development partner. Japan's initial role in dealing with Afghanistan was coordinating the economic sphere so that the new Karzai government would not be starved of funds. In January 2002, Japan held the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan in Tokyo. Since then, Japanese official development aid (ODA) has totaled US$1.2 billion.[5] In addition, Japan held two more fund-raising style conferences, the First and Second Tokyo Conference on the Consolidation of Peace in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2006. The costs of Japan's assistance can be broken down in the following ways:


Administrative Cost Assistance
2001The Afghan Interim Administration Fund (US$1 million)
2002Assistance to Emergency Loya Jirga (approximately US$2.7 million)
2002The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (approximately US$5 million)
2002Supply of Office Equipment for Transitional Administration (approximately US$500,000)
2002Grant Aid to Support Improvement of Economic Structure (approximately US$49 million)
2003Assistance to the constitutional process (approximately US$750,000)
2005Grant Aid to Support Improvement of Economic Structure (US$10 million)
2006Sector Project grand aid (US$24 million)
2007Sector Project grand aid (US$13 million)

Media Assistance
2002Improvement of TV broadcast equipment in Kabul (approximately US$19 million)
2003Information Communication in Vulnerable Communities (US$370,000)
2002Improvement of TV broadcast facilities in Kabul (approximately US$6.5 million)

Election Assistance
2004Afghanistan Voter Registration Project (approximately US$8.2 million)
2004Assistance to the Presidential Election (approximately US$8.8 million)
2005Assistance for the Lower House and Provincial Council Elections (approximately US$13 million)


2003Partnership for Peace (approximately US$34 million)
2004Assistance for Afghanistan's New Beginning's Programme (approximately US$ 25 million)
2005Assistance for Afghanistan's New Beginning's Programme (approximately US$ 26 million)
2006Assistance to National Solidarity Programme (approximately US$ 5 million)
2006Programme for Support of the Integrated Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups Initiative (approximately US$ 29 million)

Mine Countermeasures
2002Procurement of demining equipment (approximately US$15 million)
2002Procurement of artificial legs provision and educational activities on land mines for land mine victims (approximately US$1 million)
2002Necessary expense for demining activities (approximately US$2.8 million)
2003Research Project for developing mechanical machines (approximately US$590,000)
2003Research Project for developing mechanical machines (approximately US$5.2 million)

2002Support for implementation of the project to reinforce drug control (US$500,000)
2004Capacity-building for narcotic demand reduction (approximately US$1 million)
2006Counter-narcotics Trust Fund (US$5 million)

Support for Police
2003Improvement for Police equipment (approximately US$2.3 million)
2004Improvement for Kandahar Police equipment (approximately US$900,000)
2005Improvement of the equipment for Mazar-e-Sharif Police (approximately US$1 million)


Infrastructure Development
2002Primary road rehabilitation from Kabul to Kandahar (approximately US$6.3 million)
2002Road rehabilitation from Kandahar to Spin Boldak (approximately US$15 million)
2003Rehabilitation of the public transportation system in Kabul city (approximately US$18 million)
2003Construction of trunk road in northern Afghanistan (from Mazar-e-Sharif to Khulm) and international road bound for the border of Uzbekistan (from Naibabad to Hayratun) (approximately US$20 million)
2003Improvement of equipment for Kabul International Airport (approximately US$2.7 million)
2004Improvement of trunk road in northern Afghanistan from Kandahar to Heart (approximately US$89 million)
2005Improvement and construction of roads in Kandahar (approximately US$14 million)
2005Construction of the terminal at Kabul International Airport (approximately US$26 million)
2006Rehabilitation of Bamiyan-Yakawlang road (approximately US$20 million)
2007Improvement of Kabul Road Engineering Center (approximately US$7.2 million)

Public health/medical assistance
2002Medical Equipment and medicine (US$15 million)
2002Infectious diseases prevention for children (approximately US$9.8 million)
2006Integrated Child Survival Project (approximately US$3.8 million)

Support for Education
2002Back-to-school campaign (US$5 million)
2004-05Construction of basic education facilities (approximately US$22 million)

Assistance for Afghan Refugees and Displaced Persons
2002-04Ogata Initiative (approximately US$86 million)

Agricultural/Rural Development
2004Project for Balkh river basin integrated water resources management (US$ 10 million)
2004-05National Solidarity Programme (NSP) (US$21 million)
2005Regional development for sustainable peace (US$17 million)

Other Assistances
FY 2002-06Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Projects (approximately US$49 million)
2002-06JICA's technical assistance, training (approximately US$100 million)
2003-05Preservation Project for Bamiyan ruins (approximately US$3 million)
2005Improvements of the exhibition equipment of Kabul National Museum(approximately US$360,000)
2005Support to Afghanistan National Development Strategies (approximately US$140,000)

  9.  Japan is seeking closer ties with NATO and is carrying out more joint activities with NATO. The growth of working relationships between NATO, South Korea, Australia, and Japan has led some Japanese policy-makers to wonder if NATO membership will be extended to Pacific states. As a small part of the larger debate on NATO's remit and mission statement, enlargement is likely to be discussed at the Bucharest Summit[6] in April. According to a Joint Press Statement made by Prime Minister Fukuda and Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Tokyo on December 13, NATO and Japan have a mutual sense of responsibility towards global security challenges. They also "share common values". Both countries recognised the vital role that each was playing in the stabilisation and reconstruction of Afghanistan, and that in working together in-theatre, the long-standing relations between the two powers have reached a new phase. It has been argued that since the JMOD is not in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) must work more closely with NATO. The Joint Press Statement goes on to list a number of bilateral achievements between NATO and Japan including:

    —  Reinforced high-level policy dialogue, including Prime Minister Abe's January 2007 visit to Brussels, the 7th Japan-NATO High Level Consultations held in Tokyo in March, and this visit by the Secretary General, the second in two years.

    —  The participation of Japanese government officials in various NATO-hosted events, seminars, and conferences.

    —  The establishment of a framework for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan through Japanese grant aid for grassroots projects in cooperation with NATO Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). 13 projects have been initiated under this framework.

    —  The appointment of a Japanese liaison officer at its Kabul Embassy, to deal with the Office of the NATO Senior Civilian Representation.

  Further cooperative activities include the participation of Japanese Self-Defense Forces in courses at the NATO Defence College in Rome.

  10.  Japan is developing an interest in the theory and practice of the comprehensive approach[7] and has sent a number of observers, academics, and officials to the West to learn more about CIMIC activities. RUSI has hosted a number of meetings for Japanese government officials as well as academics with official backing from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense. In addition, the UK's Stabilisation Unit has hosted an equally large number of Japanese officials and academics for similar reasons[8] and high-ranking Japanese MOD officials have attended the Comprehensive Approach training course in Swindon over two days in January 2008. These visits were not restricted to the UK alone, but have included other countries in Europe that are practising various forms of CIMIC work or civil military affairs, including Sweden and Holland.

  According to an unnamed Japanese Ministry of Defense official, "CIMIC work has Japanese characteristics, since it incorporates defence work with civilian planning and diplomacy.[9] One does not rely on military strength alone." The Japanese MOD has not yet begun to work closely with the Japanese development agency JICA, but a MOD report published in 2007 on lessons learnt in Iraq is bound to have an impact. At the moment, JICA is not a ministry, but merely a part of MOFA, which initiates the planning with JICA carrying it out. However, according to an unnamed Japanese diplomat, there is a movement towards JICA control. What level of control remains unclear; it could range from JICA becoming a Ministry, to JICA merely getting more of a say in planning operations.

  There are two training centers dedicated to developing PKO and CIMIC skills in Japan: the Lessons Learned Unit and the Central Readiness Force.

III.   Analysis of Findings

  11.  Japan is at a crossroads. It has been shifted by events, by its main ally the United States and by its leaders from its Cold War position of strong economic policies combined with passive security and foreign policies. The expression of this shift has been a dramatic growth in active peacekeeping missions with the UN from the 1990s and participation in the US Global War on Terrorism since 2001. Japan's development agency JICA is also playing an extremely active development role in Afghanistan through the distribution of ODA and support operations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs probably has the most consistent and highest profile on human security, going back to 1997-98 when Prime Minister made a speech on it. The Japan Ministry of Defence has a host of different reasons for supporting the expansion of Japanese CIMIC and peacekeeping. Part of this support from within the JMOD comes from old-style nationalism, some of it comes from defence nerds, who think that if the job is to be done correctly, it should be done by the JMOD, some want value for money, the Japanese taxpayer pays for the SDF ("let them earn their pay"), and some of it is based on the Japanese desire for international recognition, the desire to do the right thing, and a Permanent UN Security Council seat.

  12.  Although Japanese policy-makers display a desire to be involved in world affairs like a "normal" country, there remain significant sections of Japanese society uncomfortable with the implications of the changes. Critics of these changes say that the fall of the Abe administration is proof of this electoral disapproval, though there is a strong case that Abe fell because a large number of scandals involving his cabinet and for putting foreign policy concerns ahead of domestic ones, rather than for the content of his foreign policy. The relationship with the US remains a strong, but complicated factor in Japanese politics. As always, the alliance has its domestic critics, but the alliance experiences waves of strong electoral support (particularly after regional crises concerning China[10] or North Korea).[11] Although support for UN-backed missions is higher than support for US-backed missions, there is a lack of widespread knowledge or concern with UN activities in Japan. Japanese political elites, LDP think tanks, and government officials support Japan maintaining a strong relationship with the United States, while opening Japan up to activities and membership within multilateral organisations. Japan has moved closer to NATO recently for a number of reasons which reveal the political context in which Japan moves. The first reason is to counterbalance the military rise of China, which Japan views with real consternation. China's growing naval strength concerns Japan as it is heavily dependent on open sea routes for trade and natural resources.[12] The second reason is that a more formal relationship with NATO would change the nature of Japan's relationship with the United States to something more akin to what the United Kingdom has developed with the US: a multilateral partner, rather than a bilateral partner. The third reason is that Japan wishes to gain prestige for acting as a good global citizen, both as a security provider and as a security consumer. Despite the tone of this report, real change in Japanese security thinking is likely to be gradual compared to Western political standards, and if these changes are to be carried out successfully, they will need to be more closely linked to public sentiment in Japan. Policy-makers in Japan who try to move too quickly before gaining the support of the electorate are bound to provoke a backlash.

March 2008

1   Japan shall neither possess nor manufacture nuclear weapons, nor shall it permit their introduction into Japanese territory. Back

2   The Socialist Party and the Japan Communist Party (JCP) have been instrumental in tranforming an anti-military culture into a political ideology. Back

3   One of the LDP's coalition partners is the Komeito party, which has as its support base the Buddhist religious organization (Souka Gakkai), which has strong pacifist leanings. Back

4   Exchange with unnamed Japanese government official. Back

5   Japan's Contribution to Afghanistan-Working on the Frontline in the War on Terrorism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2007. Back

6   April 2008. As this summit is meant to be inclusive, high level delegations from the above-mentioned Pacific states are likely to attend. Back

7   This is taken to mean combined planning of diplomacy, development, and defence in hot stabilisation regions like Afghanistan. Back

8   Source: unnamed UK official. Back

9   Paraphrased. Back

10   Anti-Japanese riots in 2005 took place in several major Chinese cities when Japan announced it had joined a group on UN Reform of the Security Coucil membership. Back

11   North Korea's nuclear ambitions and missile technology have often been implicitly or explicitly aimed at Japan. Back

12   This is despite strong trade links and growing ties. Back

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