On December 15, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a speech at a conference held at Kyodo News. Much of his speech was about how he envisions continuing his efforts to revitalize the Japanese economy. However, in his discussion of upcoming revision of the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) — a defense policy document that guides the Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP), the acquisition plan — Abe said something unprecedented: that, while continuing to uphold an exclusively defense-oriented posture and other fundamental principles, the upcoming NDPG revision will not be considered based on a linear projection of the past evolution of Japanese defense policy. Rather, Abe stressed, the revision will be based on an honest assessment of the aggravated security situation that Japan finds itself in today.
Abe’s comments are illustrative of his sense of urgency regarding the rapidly worsening security environment in Northeast Asia. Indeed, just in this past year, unrelenting pressure from China in the East China Sea and heightening tensions on the Korea Peninsula, aggravated by the accelerated pace of North Korea’s provocative behavior, created a “new normal” for Japan, where Tokyo now has to remain on constant alert toward the surrounding security situation. The problem for Abe is that the situation will be unlikely to improve much for Japan in 2018.
This article was originally published by The Diplomat on January 3, 2018. Read the full article here.