TOKYO (Kyodo) — Speculation is mounting in security circles in Japan as to whether the targets of a proposed “counterattack capability” would include China’s Central Military Commission, the armed forces’ highest decision-making body. of the country led by President Xi Jinping.
The speculation was exposed at a parliamentary meeting last week when the Ministry of Defense did not respond directly to a question from an opposition lawmaker seeking to know whether what was until recently called “enemy base attack capability” targets would include the Chinese CMC.
The meeting came after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party suggested on April 27 that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government acquire a counterattack capability to attack enemy bases and “command and control functions”.
The LDP has not yet made clear what these functions entail, but defense experts say the proposed capability could cover command centers issuing orders for missile attacks and would expand Japan’s options to retaliate against missiles launched by mobiles and submarines.
At a meeting last Wednesday of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Japanese Communist Party member Keiji Kokuta asked if the government was considering the CMC and the five theater commands as among the targets of a capability. of counter-attack.
The five commands are responsible for the defense of the eastern, southern, western, northern and central regions of China. The Eastern Theater Command, for example, oversees Taiwan, Japan and the East China Sea.
Masahisa Sato, director of the LDP’s foreign affairs division, and other security experts say China has around 1,900 short- and medium-range missiles that can reach Japan.
Kokuta cited a document the Japanese ground staff office used during an internal meeting in September 2017.
The document shows an organizational chart of the Chinese military and indicates that there is a command system between the CMC and the five theater commands.
Kokuta said the LDP’s proposal did not exclude the CMC and the Five Commands from possible targets, and asked, “Wouldn’t that lead to a full-scale war with China?”
Makoto Oniki, Deputy Defense Minister, did not directly address the issue and said: “Attacking the base with a guided missile would constitutionally be self-defense if (the government) perceives that there is no no other means (of defending Japan).”
Oniki said he was unable to comment on the PLD’s proposal, which also includes a call to double Japan’s defense budget to 2% or more of gross domestic product over five years.
The LDP wants the proposal to be reflected when the government revises the national security strategy and other documents by the end of the year.
Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the government is considering adopting a counterattack capability “without ruling out any possible options in order to fully prepare us to protect people’s lives.” .
LDP lawmakers hope the development of a counterattack capability will serve as a deterrent against possible attacks on Japan, especially in light of China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region and the development North Korea’s nuclear and missile weapons.
Critics, however, say such a move would represent a major departure from Japan’s exclusively self-defense-focused security posture under its war-absent Constitution.
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