The New Japanese White Paper: Shaping a Way Ahead



The Japanese released their 2015 White Paper in July and have published an English version as well.

They also released a look back at defense activities in 2014.

With regard to the security environment facing Japan the judgement is direct:

“The security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe, with various challenges and destabilizing factors becoming more tangible and acute.”

The White Paper highlights concerns with the interactivity of crises as well:

“In a global security environment, interdependence among countries has expanded and deepened with globalization and rapid advances in technological innovations.

At the same time, there is a growing risk that unrest or a security problem in a single country or region could immediately develop into a challenge or destabilizing factor for the entire international community.”

And the Chinese, Russian and US dynamics are summarized as follows:

Today, China has significant influence in the international community. Accordingly, China is strongly expected to recognize its responsibility in the international community, accept and comply with international norms, and play an active in a more cooperative manner in regional and global issues.

In the meantime, China has been continuously increasing its defense budget at a high level and has been rapidly reinforcing its military in a wide range of areas. As part of such effort, China is believed to be making efforts to strengthen its asymmetrical military capabilities to prevent military activity by other countries in the region by denying access and deployment of foreign militaries to its surrounding areas (so-called “Anti-Access/Area-Denial” [“A2/ AD”] capabilities as well as to build its structure for joint operations and enhance combat-oriented military trainings.

China has not clearly stated the purposes and goals of the military buildup, and transparency concerning its decision making process on military and security matters is not fully achieved.

In addition, China is rapidly expanding and intensifying its activities in the maritime and aerial domains in the region including in the East China Sea and South China Sea. In particular, China has continued to take assertive actions with regard to issues of conflicts of interest in the maritime domain, as exemplified by its attempts to change the status quo by coercion, and has signaled its position to realize its unilateral assertions without making any compromises.

As for the seas and airspace around Japan, China has intruded into Japanese territorial waters frequently by its government ships, and has engaged in dangerous activities that could cause unforeseen consequences, such as its vessel’s direction of fire control radar at a JMSDF destroyer, the flight of fighters abnormally close to JSDF aircraft, and its announcement of establishing the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)” based on its own assertion thereby infringing the freedom of overflight over the high seas.

In the South China Sea, China has also intensified friction with countries in the surrounding area by proceeding rapidly with land reclamation projects in multiple reefs, among other activities, based on China’s unilateral assertion of sovereignty. In addition, a Chinese fighter is alleged to have flown abnormally close to and conducted an intercept of a U.S. Forces aircraft.

As Japan has great concern about these Chinese activities, it will need to pay utmost attention to them, as these activities also raise concerns over regional and global security. This is why China is asked to further increase transparency regarding its military and why further strengthening of mutual understanding and trust by promoting dialogue and exchanges with China is an important issue.

Against this backdrop, recently, China has begun to actively respond to the calls to take measures to avoid and prevent unforeseen consequences in the maritime domain. It is strongly hoped that progress on these efforts supplements the existing order based on international law and leads to enhancing China’s compliance with international norms.

Russia, while perceiving the buildup of an affluent nation as its task for the present, attaches importance to becoming an influential power based on the deployment of its new economic, cultural, and military might. Against the backdrop of its economic development, Russia has promoted the strengthening of the readiness of its Armed Forces and the development and induction of new equipment, while continuing to give priority to its nuclear force. Recently, a confrontational relationship has developed between Russia and such countries as the United States and European nations over Ukraine which Russia deems is part of its sphere of influence.

Under these circumstances, Russia faces a severe economic situation due to falling crude oil prices, a plunging ruble, and the impacts of EU and U.S. economic sanctions, among other factors. On the other hand, even as expenditure cuts are made in a wide range of areas, Russia has continued to increase defense spending and modernize its Armed Forces.

Recently, Russia has intensified its military activities not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also in the Arctic, Europe, and the periphery of mainland United States, and has been expanding the area of activities. In the Far East, the Russian Armed Forces has conducted large-scale exercises. Furthermore, in the territory of Ukraine, Russia has engaged in “hybrid warfare” that is difficult to identify definitively as an armed attack by a country, and has attempted to change the status quo by force or coercion. This is recognized as a global issue that could affect the entire international community, including Asia.

As seen above, in the Asia-Pacific region, where the security environment has increasingly grown severe, the presence of the U.S. Forces remains extremely important in order to achieve regional stability. Accordingly, Japan and other countries, such as Australia and the ROK, have established bilateral alliances and partnerships with the United States, and allow the stationing and deployment of U.S. Forces in their territories.


The evolving Japanese defense approach as well which includes adding new capabilities, such as Osprey and F-35s and enhanced integration of missile defense.

And the evolution of technology trade and common maintenance approaches with the United States and allies is part of the evolving equation, which certainly makes sense given the role of systems such as Aegis, F-35 and Osprey in the region.

In December 2011, Japan selected the F-35A as the next-generation fighter aircraft to succeed the F-4 fighter aircraft. At the same time, the government decided to procure 42 aircraft from FY2012 onwards and to have Japanese industries participate in its production, aside from several finished aircraft which shall be imported.

In light of this decision, the Japanese government has been working to enable the involvement of Japanese industries in the manufacturing process in preparation for the F-35A acquisition from FY2013 onwards.

Following discussions with related parties such as the U.S. government, the Japanese government has steadily expanded the range of production participation by Japanese industries including the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) for airframes and engines, the manufacture of engines and radar parts, and the Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System.

It is important for Japanese industries to participate in the manufacturing process and to come into contact with cutting edge fighter aircraft technology and knowledge in order to ensure safety and high operational availability, resulting in the safe and efficient management of ASDF F-35As.

In December 2014, with regard to regional Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade (MRO&U) Capability in the Asia-Pacific region for F35s, the U.S. government announced the following decisions:

(1) regional MRO&U capability for airframes will be provided to Japan and Australia with both capabilities required not later than early 20182;

(2) With regard to the regional MRO&U Capability for engines, initial capability will be provided by Australia by early 2018, with Japan providing additional capability within the next 3-5 years.

Utilizing the FACO facility for airframes and engines, and contributing to maintenance in the Asia-Pacific region are significant from the perspectives of securing the operational support system for F-35A in Japan, maintaining the foundation of the domestic defense industry, strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and deepening equipment cooperation in the region.

Two MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161) prepare to land onboard the JS Hyuga (DDG-181), during Dawn Blitz 2013 off the coast of Naval Base Coronado, June 14, 2013. Credit: 1st MEB
Two MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161) prepare to land onboard the JS Hyuga (DDG-181), during Dawn Blitz 2013 off the coast of Naval Base Coronado, June 14, 2013. Credit: 1st MEB

Initiatives towards the establishment of the Japan-U.S. osprey common maintenance base, etc.

As the Periodic Maintenance Inspection (PMI) of the U.S. Marine Corps Ospreys (24 aircraft) deployed at Futenma is scheduled to commence roughly in 2017, the U.S. Forces will determine a maintenance company for this purpose by public bidding.

With regard to the Osprey (V-22)to be introduced to the GSDF, the MOD recognizes the importance of establishing a common maintenance base for the U.S. Marine Corp aircraft within Japan from the following perspectives:

(1) Smooth introduction of Ospreys to the GSDF;

(2) Smooth and effective operation of the Japan-U.S. security arrangement;

and 3. Enhanced efficiency in maintenance.

Based on this perspective, the MOD plans to allow Japanese companies to use the hangars at GSDF Camp Kisarazu for regular aircraft maintenance of the U.S. Marine Corps Ospreys and also to implement the future aircraft maintenance of the GSDF Ospreys at the same camp. Under this plan, Japanese companies are participating in a U.S. Forces bid.


For a complete look at the White Paper, see the following:

In our book on Pacific strategy we focused a great deal on the evolution of Japanese defense in shaping an effective 21st century approach to deterrence in depth.

We argued that:

The Chinese seem bent on driving the two greatest maritime powers of the 20th century together into a closer alliance.

 And at the heart of this alliance are key joint investments and procurement working relationships.

 Japan is a key technological partner for the United States throughout. They are a founding member of the Aegis global enterprise.

 They are an investor and operational partner in the SM-3 missile capability to enhance missile defense.

They are a major player in the F-35 program, which will allow the shaping of an attack-and-defense enterprise.

 They are building a final assembly facility for the F-35, which will become a key element in the F-35 global procurement system, subject to Japanese
government policy decisions.

 And they are keenly interested in seeing how the Osprey can shape greater reach and range for the “dynamic defense” of Japan.

Laird, Robbin F.; Timperlake, Edward (2013-10-28). Rebuilding American Military Power in the Pacific: A 21st-Century Strategy: A 21st-Century Strategy (The Changing Face of War) (Kindle Locations 3968-3969). ABC-CLIO. Kindle Edition.