Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/23/2012 -- BMI's Japan Defence & Security Report for Q312 examines the country's strategic position in the East Asian region and the wider world. It provides an overview of the contemporary geopolitical challenges facing the country, and the trials it may face in the future.
The report examines the trends occurring in the country's current and future defence procurement, and the order of battle across its armed forces. The intention is to provide a clear and concise discussion of these issues. The report's general conclusion is that in spite of growing concern about China's military rise, Japan looks set to remain heavily dependent on the United States as the guarantor of its security. While some advanced programmes are improving the capability of the Japanese military, a defence budget that has declined every year for the past decade and an enduring historical-cultural aversion to remilitarization continue to place major constraints on Tokyo's strategic options.
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BMI notes that changes to the country's defence export rules, announced by the Noda government in December 2011, have the potential to reinvigorate the local defence industry, as well as presenting lucrative opportunities to foreign partners. However, it remains too early to say whether the new rules will reshape Japan's defence industry, or simply usher in minor structural changes. Moreover, it is clear that without budget increases, any changes to the rules governing the defence industry will have only limited effect.
The report places Japan's defence policies in the context of its long-running territorial disputes with China, Russia and South Korea. It also considers Tokyo's military contingencies to deal with North Korean aggression.
Over the last quarter BMI has revised the following forecasts/views:
- The progress of two key fighter aircraft programmes is discussed in detail. The price tag for Japan's order of 42 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters has been revealed by the US to be US$10bn, or US$238mn per aircraft. The huge cost of the programme, coupled with lingering concerns about the F-35's effectiveness, partly explains the decision announced in Q2 to move forwards with the development of an indigenous stealth fighter. With US$480mn committed to the project so far, a prototype is now slated to fly in 2014.
- North Korea's test-firing of a ballistic missile in March 2012, and the Japanese response, is analysed. Ultimately, the embarrassing failure of the North Korean missile may help to reduce regional tensions, as it demonstrated how far Pyongyang remains from possessing a nuclearcapable missile capability.
- The announcement of the much-delayed US Forces Japan realignment plan has finally taken place: 9,000 US troops are now due to leave Okinawa, with 10,000 set to remain. However, a deal on US military bases has yet to be agreed, with local opposition to new facilities still fierce.
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