Japanese Prime Minister’s Diet speech mentions acquiring “attack capabilities against enemy bases” against the Chinese Communist Party

Japan will take steps to strengthen its national defense in the face of rising regional threats and explore options including developing the ability to attack enemy bases overseas, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in his address to the Diet on Monday.

The rising regional threats include the Chinese Communist Party, which has become increasingly assertive as its economic and military power soars, and North Korea, which is committed to developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and is unpredictable in its behavior.

Kishida delivered a speech in the House of Representatives at the plenary session of the Diet, which was tantamount to a “statement of faith” on his policy plan, addressing such important issues as measures to prevent the new epidemic and to revive the economy.

Kishida stressed that Japan will fundamentally strengthen its defense posture and will explore all options including acquiring the ability to attack enemy bases; Reuters noted in its report that this clearly goes beyond the post-war Japanese peace constitution that restricts the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to self-defense and not to foreign attacks, and the tradition that Japan plays only a shield role in the U.S.-Japan security alliance, while the U.S. military is the lance.

“To protect the lives and survival of our people, we will review all options including the ability to attack enemy bases … and to strengthen our defense posture with a sense of urgency,” Kishida said.

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces soldiers line up at a military barracks in Tokyo to listen to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s speech. (Nov. 27, 2021)

The idea of acquiring the ability to attack enemy bases has been much debated in the Japanese government in recent years, and Kishida supported the idea when he ran for president of the Liberal Democratic Party this September, basically because missiles now have the ability to evade anti-missile systems.

In order to strengthen Japan’s defense posture, Kishida promised to revise the “National Security Strategy”, “Defense Plan Outline” and “Mid-term Defense Force Readiness Plan” and other 3 important defense documents within a year. The speech was a great success.

In his speech, Kishida called on the Diet to seriously consider whether to amend the Constitution to give the government more discretion in how to deploy the Self-Defense Forces.

Kishida was once identified as a dove when he served as foreign minister in former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet, but observers believe he is increasingly embracing Abe’s hawkish stance on defense and security issues.

The Japanese government on Nov. 26 approved an additional ¥770 billion ($6.75 billion) in military spending, on top of the already record 2021 military spending, to accelerate the procurement of missiles, anti-submarine missiles and other weaponry in response to concerns over escalating military activity by China, Russia and North Korea.

The additional military budget pushes Japan’s total military budget for fiscal year 2021 to a record high of 6.1 trillion yen ($53.2 billion), 15 percent higher than the total military budget of about 5.31 trillion yen for fiscal year 2020.

In proposing the plan, dubbed the “Accelerated Defense Enhancement Package,” the Japanese Defense Ministry said, “As the security environment around Japan is deteriorating at an unprecedented rate, our urgent task is to accelerate the implementation of various programs.”