Japan has listed China and North Korea as its security challenges in an outline of its new national security strategy, which should be approved by the end of the year, reported Japanese media on Tuesday.
An eight-member panel led by International University of Japan President Shinichi Kitaoka, has been drafting Japan’s first national security guideline as part of the government’s efforts to boost the country’s defense capabilities, reported The Mainichi, one of Japan’s leading daily newspapers.
"We will specify what Japan's policy will look like under proactive pacifism throughout the process of crafting our national security strategy," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the panel of security experts, said the paper.
The national security strategy, expected to cover the next decade, was being designed to help guide operations of Japan’s version of the US National Security Council, which could be established early next year, it added.
The outline listed China’s maritime ambitions and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme as security challenges for Tokyo.
In what was most likely a reference to Beijing, the outline pointed out increased activities aimed at changing the status quo “by the use of force”, said Mainichi.
The panel also suggested Tokyo review Japan’s self-imposed ban on exporting weapons, which has been in force since 1967, to enhance its defence industry.
Tokyo will likely approve the final version of the strategy by the end of this year, around the same time it adopts new defence guidelines.
Officially stating China as a security challenge formalises the Abe administration’s desire to build up Japan’s military force and influence in response to Beijing’s expanding military footprint, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said.
Japan’s prime minister was re-elected last December with a pledge to boost the country’s military to counter what it sees as growing threats from abroad.
On Sunday, Japan announced that it would shoot down foreign drones that invade its air space. The move came after a Chinese drone approached the disputed islands claimed by both Beijing, which calls them the Diaoyus, and Tokyo, which says they are the Senkakus, last month.