Japan unveils tough new military strategy

Reuters/Issei Kato

Japan has unveiled a major strategic defence review to combat the threat from North Korea and what it terms “global concern” surrounding the military build-up of China. An officially pacifist country, Japan plans to Japan will increase its submarine fleet from 16 to 22 and modernise its fighter jets.


It also plans to double from three to six its land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missile systems, and increase from four to six the number of sea-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors on its Aegis destroyers.

It’s all part of a shift in its defence focus from the Soviet Cold War threat to southern islands nearer to China.

Japan’s cabinet approved the National Defence Programme Guidelines months after a territorial row flared up with China and weeks after North Korea launched a deadly artillery strike against South Korea.

The new guidelines labelled North Korea an "urgent, grave factor for instability".

In recent years, North Korea has fired missiles over Japan, staged two nuclear tests and last month unveiled a new uranium enrichment plant.

Japan is increasing assertiveness in what it sees as its ancestral waters in the East China and South China seas.

"Together with the lack of transparency on China's military and security issues, the trend is a concern for the region and the international community," the guidelines say.

China on Friday criticised Japan’s military policy as "irresponsible".

"No country has the right to appoint themselves the representative of the international community and make irresponsible comments on China's development," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement.

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