Retired U.S. Marine Col. Grant Newsham, who has previously told American Family News an attack on Taiwan is a direct threat to Japan, says mounting tensions in the South China Sea are concerning him greatly. The retired officer tells AFN that he is now concerned about Japan’s ability to promptly bring forth “a well-considered plan for strengthening its military and national defense based on a proper threat assessment.”
Having served as the first Marine Liaison Officer to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during his career, Newsham notes that Japan is “overly reliant” on U.S. forces. Nonetheless, in July, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to make a stronger Japan. And according to the expert, that would include doubling the amount spent on the East Asian country’s defense.
“However,” Newsham points out, “to date, Kishida has yet to provide any specifics about how the extra money will be allocated for their defense.” What’s more, he asks, “How will the increased spending actually strengthen the country’s defenses and its military?”
Just this week, according to a Stars and Stripes article, top U.S. and Japanese military leaders met with reporters after an annual joint military exercise, Orient Shield, concluded. During the exercise, U.S. Army Pacific commander, Gen. Charles Flynn, visited the island of Amami, a front-line defensive garrison, for the first time. The top U.S. commander told reporters Japan is facing a "very severe security environment," which means Japan's military must tighten its defensive capabilities.
Newsham, meanwhile, argues that an adequate threat-based plan from Japan is “missing in action.” And by his estimation, Japan needs to implement a plan in the very near future. “There is no time to wait, because China could move on Taiwan much quicker than most seem to realize,” he explains.
There is no argument the People’s Liberation Army overseen by the Chinese Community Party dwarfs the armed forces in Japan, which is known formally as the Japan Self-Defense Force. The national defense website Global Firepower ranks China No. 3, behind the U.S. (1) and Russia (2), with India ranked No. 4. Coming in at No. 5 is Japan. The U.S. ally has a naval force that includes 21 submarines and 36 destroyers. Japan’s airpower includes 217 jet fighters and 23 aircraft dedicated to ground attacks and bombing runs.
Slight changes to Japan Self-Defense Force’s existing structure and capabilities are not enough, Newsham warns.
“Japan needs to get serious,” he warns, “about the changes it needs to actually engage in war successfully.”
Increased spending on advanced weaponry is not enough to meet the potential challenges ahead, he indicates. To be ready for war, Newsham says Japan needs to address a range of requirements, including JSDF organization and capabilities, hardware, war stocks, logistics, and even the handling of casualties. It also needs much better coordination with U.S. forces.
“More than anything,” the senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy concludes, “Japan needs to be working off a common threat assessment alongside its greatest, and only ally, the United States.”
According to Newsham, it is past time to get serious about the details of what both countries will need in order to fight an actual war in northeast Asia -- and with Taiwan in mind.
In this process, Newsham advises, “the JSDF—despite its heavy reliance on America—also needs to be prepared to play a much bigger role in preserving freedom in the Asia-Pacific with or without war knocking at its doorstep.”