Japan-U.S. joint exercise, a key step forward of Abe's military expansion ambition

Source
China Military
Editor
Huang Panyue
Time
2016-11-10

BEIJING, Nov. 10 (ChinaMil) -- As part of the ongoing codenamed “Exercise Keen Sword 2016" joint military exercise, the Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF) and the U.S. military held the inaugural joint drill reflecting the new security legislation near Okinawa on November 7.

Against the backdrop of the validated new security legislation, despite Japanese Ministry of Defense’s repeated stress on the “routine nature” of the drill, this Japan-U.S. joint exercise is frequently questioned because of its newly-added “important-influence situation” conception, and its objective of breaking geographical barriers and strengthening JSDF’s capability of providing “rear support” to the U.S. military.

This marks a crucial step forward for the Abe’s “military expansion” ambition to undermine the pacifist constitution with the new security bills and to substantially promote the expansion of JSDF’s overseas military activity sphere and function.

The Japan-U.S. “Keen Sword” joint military exercises, held biennially starting from 1986, are one of the biggest actual-troop drills between the two countries.

This year's “Keen Sword” officially kicked off on October 30, around 11,000 U.S. soldiers and 26,000 JSDF soldiers, 260 warplanes and 20 naval vessels joined the amphibious landing and missile defense exercises in areas around Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Tinian and Northern Mariana Islands.

In previous “Keen Sword” joint military exercises, Japan and the U.S. once conducted drills on JSDF’s “rear support” to the U.S. army based on the Perimeter Situation Law.

In the new security bills that the Abe administration forced through last year, the Perimeter Situation Law was renamed to the Important-influence Situation Law, which in fact lifts the geographical restrictions on JSDF’s “rear support” activity sphere previously confined to areas around Japan, and expands the supported countries to beyond the U.S..

In addition, the identification of the so-called “important-influence situation” for Japan’s peace and security is only subject to the judgment by the Japanese government without being shackled by the inspection or reviews of the Diet of Japan.

So this “Keen Sword” joint military exercise featuring how JSDF will provide the “rear support” to the US military in an “important-influence situation” has aroused high concerns.

According to the schedule released by Japanese Ministry of Defense, this year's “Keen Sword” Japan-US joint exercise based on the new security legislation is held near the Ukibara Island to the east of Okinawa Prefecture and the surrounding waters on November 7 and November 9 on a premise that the U.S. and other countries are drawn into fights and the Japanese government judges that an “important-influence situation” has occurred.

In the drill on November 7, the scenarios assuming that the U.S. warplanes crash in international waters and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) dispatches large transport helicopters to the site for rescuing the U.S. crew in danger from the sea are envisaged.

On November 9, the Japanese and the U.S. militaries conducted a drill of larger scale in a non-public way, with the scenario of water rescue aircrafts of both sides engaged in rescue of a large number of wounded people on the sea.

In future, based on the new security legislation, besides joint military drills with its U.S. ally, JSDF also plans exercises on supplying ammunition to other friendly forces and refueling airplanes of friendly forces ready for combat, as well as “trainings for further hypothetical exercise of the right of collective self-defense”.

The Kyodo News analyzed that the Japan-U.S. joint military exercise held on Monday indicates that the troop exercise between Japan and the U.S. based on the new security legislation has been officially launched, laying a foundation for expanding the logistic support of JSDF to the world scale.

Japan's Jiji Press also said that the Japanese government may continue to utilize the Japan-U.S. alliance and the “world-covering security corporation network” to transform the new security legislation to new security practices.

As a matter of fact, since the new security legislation was forced through by the Abe administration more than one year ago, skeptical and dissenting voices across various sectors of Japan never cease.

A vast majority of Japanese legal scholars deem the new security legislation unconstitutional. There have been more than 300 mass assemblies and parades protesting against the legislation.

On October 23 when Abe attended the inspection ceremony of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), more than 1,000 Japanese from across the country came to the site and held assemblies and parades against the enforcement of the legislation.

Some relatives of the self-defense force members even asked Abe on site “not to send my family to the battlefield”.

Some expert pointed out that the new security legislation has severely impacted young Japanese’s recognition toward the Self-Defense Force, which may face difficult conscription as a result.

However, the Abe administration turned a deaf ear to the above protests.

It is said that after the troop exercises based on the new security legislation with the U.S., the Abe administration will also officially entrust on Nov. 15 two new tasks of “support and escort” and “joint defense at the camps” based on the new legislation to the 11th Japanese peacekeeping self-defense force to South Sudan, formerly opening the “Pandora's Box” of overseas exercise of force by the JSDF which has been forbidden by the Japan’s pacifist constitution.

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