By Cheng Anqi
The Japanese government held a National Security Council meeting in early April and concluded a new mechanism named Official Security Assistance (OSA), which allows Japan to provide military assistance to countries that share values to help strengthen their military capabilities. Many analyses and remarks point out that this move demonstrates that Japan has seriously deviated from the ban on international assistance for military purposes, and reveals Japanese right-wing forces' stubborn ambition of accelerating military normalization, which will devastatingly endanger the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.
Out of considerations of dealing with post-war relations, revitalizing the economy and improving the national image, the Japanese government established the Official Development Assistance (ODA) mechanism to assist developing countries after WWII, which eased tensions between Japan and Southeast Asian countries. Different from ODA with a non-military nature, the OSA will focus on the military fields. After the formation of this mechanism, the Japanese government may allocate dedicated foreign military assistance funds from the annual financial budgets.
"Japan has long flaunted vigorously to strengthen its so-called international contribution in the security field. It can be said that this new mechanism extends the encouragement of loosening weapon export restraints during Abe's administration, and also represents the Japanese latest move to seek military deregulation." Lu Hao, director of Integrated Strategy Research Office of Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) commented that Japan is probably to further revise the "Three Principles on Defense Equipment Transfers" and its application guidelines to support the role of this new mechanism and promote normalization and facilitation of foreign military assistance.
"In recent years, the Japanese ruling party has been expecting to break the limitations of the Pacifist Constitution formulated after WWII, and make Japan a normal country. The establishment of this new foreign military assistance mechanism manifests that Japanese identity of a peaceful country is being continuously made a figurehead." Associate research fellow at Department for Asia-Pacific Studies, China Institute of International Relations (CIIS) Sun Wenzhu said, "The new version of National Security Strategy (NSS) publicized by Japan last year had already endorsed its expansion of defense equipment. The formation of this new mechanism will help Japan further expand the scope of its overseas military operations and also mean that the rules of the Pacifist Constitution and its "exclusively defense-oriented" strategy have a mere nominal existence.
According to Japanese media, Japan is planning to provide the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Fiji with radar and satellite communication systems for surveillance of territorial waters and airspace under the framework of the OSA mechanism.
From the opinion of Sun, the reason why Japan chose Southeast Asian countries and Pacific island countries as the first assistance targets is that on the one hand, it expects to expand military influence and enhance military discourse power in these regions by wooing certain countries, and on the other hand, it intends to attract the strategic attentions of the US to ensure the latter to put great concerns on Asia-Pacific and US-Japanese alliance. "Japan has always cherished expects but also doubts about the security promises of the US, especially after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Japan hopes to maintain a favorable security environment by wooing surrounding countries," Lu mentioned.
The Japanese government announces that the purpose of the OSA mechanism is to achieve its vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific". However, it will by no means bring about "freedom and openness" in the end, but actually targets weaving all types of closed and exclusive small cliques and creating regional split and confrontation. This move doesn't align with the common interest of regional countries and is not conducive to regional security and stability.
For some time recently, the Japanese convergence with the US "Indo-Pacific Strategy" is becoming more obvious. From peddling the so-called free and open Indo-Pacific enthusiastically, interfering in the South China Sea issue, to providing military equipment to certain countries and disrupting their relations with China, Japan has become a major accomplice of the US on its containing-China policy within the Asia-Pacific. Japan which had committed war crimes in WWII should be intensely aware that only conformance with Pacifist Constitution will win acceptance and respect from the international community while following the US anti-China policy to seek military deregulation will inevitably make it repeat historical mistakes and become a peace-breaker of the Asia-Pacific. We exhort Japan not to disturb the regional stability by backwashing, otherwise, it will pay a heavy price for it.