Tokyo has officially approved its first national security strategy, which is aimed at keeping China in check in view of repeated intrusions into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands by Chinese vessels and its recent unilateral declaration of an air defence identification zone that includes the airspace over the islets.
The strategy also touts what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls proactive pacifism, under which Japan will contribute to international peace and stability.
The strategy, which will serve as guidelines for the nation's foreign and security policies for the next 10 years, was adopted Tuesday at a meeting of the National Security Council held at the Prime Minister's Office and later at a Cabinet meeting.
The Cabinet also approved the new National Defence Programme Guidelines based on the strategy as well as the mid-term defence buildup programme for a five-year period starting from next fiscal year.
The strategy replaces the nation's Basic Policy for National Defence approved in 1957, which stipulates four basic principles, including supporting the United Nations' activities and establishing a foundation necessary for the nation's security. The new strategy marks a major turning point in the nation's security after World War II.
The basic principle of the strategy is proactive pacifism under which it says the Self-Defence Forces will play a more active role in ensuring peace and stability in the international community while Japan maintains its course as a pacifist nation.
As challenges the nation needs to address, the strategy pointed to North Korea's military buildup and China's rapid rise as a military power. In particular, it says, China "is trying to change the status quo by force, based on an assertion that is incompatible with an order of international law in the East China Sea and other areas".
The strategy refers to intrusions into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, by Chinese official vessels and Beijing's declaration of the ADIZ in the East China Sea as "matters of concern for the international community, including Japan".
It says Japan "will strengthen measures to ensure territorial integrity" and "will strengthen the Japan-US alliance by securing the stable presence of the US military."
As for the nation's three principles on arms exports, it says, "Regarding the transfer of arms and related goods, clear rules suitable for the new security environment will be created."