Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Yes, we did a good job: Japan's response to the rocket launch
MICHISHITA Narushige  / Assistant Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

May 11, 2009
On April 5, North Korea launched a rocket over Japan's head. Japan's response to the launch was effective and appropriate. Particularly salient were the following three points: (a) civilian control worked; (b) the ballistic missile defense (BMD) system was put into operation successfully; and (c) appropriate civil protection measures were taken. These were the fruits of the series of steps that Japan had taken for over a decade to cope with the new threats arising from North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

In the past, when faced with North Korean actions such as missile launches, the Japanese government's decision-making was often confused. This time, under the Self-Defense Forces Law revised in 2007, the Minister of Defense issued an advance order to the Self-Defense Forces units to prepare for the destruction of the rocket which might have fallen on Japanese territory through the use of the BMD. The decision-making mechanism worked properly, and the civilian leaders exercised effective control over the military. "Civilian control" in Japan used to mean "negative civilian control" designed to prevent the military from getting out of political control. This time, "positive civilian control" was exercised to enable an effective use of the military.

The two components of the BMD system - the SM-3 aboard the Aegis destroyers and the ground-deployed PAC-3 - were for the first time put into operation for actual contingency. Japan started its BMD consultation with the United States in 1993, moved on to joint research in 1999, and its cabinet made a decision for its deployment in 2003. The operation of the BMD this time did not suddenly come out of the blue, but was an outcome of the series of steps that Japan had taken for the past 16 years. There were some hitches, such as the minor traffic accident caused by a PAC-3 unit on the way to its destination and false missile launch alarms. Though lamentable, these things inevitably happen in contingencies. It may not altogether be a bad thing if they learn lessons from these experiences.

Finally, civil protection measures were taken. The Civil Protection Law of 2004 made such steps possible. Since the Law's enactment, the central and local governments have been working together to implement civil protection measures including training exercises. A website entitled, "Civil Protection Portal Site," has been set up (http://www.kokuminhogo.go.jp/en/pc-index_e.html) to enhance awareness of civil protection measures. I recall my colleagues in the Cabinet Secretariat, where I worked from 2004 through 2006, going about putting this system together.

Admittedly, there were problems in Japan's response. Perhaps the biggest one was that Japan insisted on calling the North Korean rocket a "missile." Some foreign observers felt alarmed by Japanese "overreaction," and others even suspected of Japan's hidden intention of using the "missile" to strengthen its military capabilities. It was possible that the rocket launched by North Korea was actually carrying a satellite, and there was insufficient ground to state categorically that it was a "missile." Fortunately, the satellite did not go into orbit, and Japan's contention was neither proved nor disproved. But had the satellite launch been successful, what would have happened to Japan's position? National security decision-making is not about gambling. Whether it was a missile or a rocket to launch a satellite would not have made much difference militarily. In fact, there was hardly any interest on the part of either the United States or South Korea to make that distinction since they knew such a distinction was meaningless. When President Obama commented on the launch in his Prague speech, he said, "a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles," I was shocked to hear this translated simply as "a missile" on a Japanese TV channel. In Japan, we often talk about the importance of bolstering intelligence capabilities. In reality, we were not analyzing the situation in a sober and objective manner, and our media was even distorting the facts.

Japan's efforts in security policy over the years have made it possible to tide over this most recent national security crisis quite successfully. However, the focus in our dealings with North Korea is gradually shifting from military to diplomatic challenges. The question facing Japan is whether it will be able to act as effectively in diplomacy as it did in security.

The writer is Assistant Professor at National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

道下徳成  / 政策研究大学院大学助教授

2009年 5月 11日
今年4月、北朝鮮は日本の上空を飛び越える形でロケットを発射した。これに対する日本の対応は、全体として効果的かつ適切なものであったといえる。特に、①シビリアン・コントロールが機能した、②弾道ミサイル防衛(BMD)システムを正常に運用した、③適切に国民保護(civil protection)措置をとったという3点において、それは目覚ましいものであった。これらの成果は、北朝鮮の核・ミサイル開発などの新しい脅威に対し、過去10年以上にわたって日本がとってきた一連の措置が生み出したものであった。

過去、北朝鮮のミサイル発射などに際して日本政府は政策決定上の混乱をきたすことが多かった。しかし、今回の事態では、2007年に改訂した自衛隊法に基づき、防衛大臣があらかじめ自衛隊の部隊に命令を発し、着実にBMDによるロケットの迎撃準備を進めた。政策決定過程は円滑であり、シビリアンのリーダーたちは軍に対するコントロールをしっかりと行使した。以前は日本のシビリアン・コントロールは軍を使わないための「negative civilian control」であると言われてきたが、今回は軍を効果的に使うための「positive civilian control」が行使された。

次に、イージス艦に搭載されたSM-3と地上配備されたペトリオットPAC-3という2つのBMDシステムも初めて実際のコンティンジェンシーにおいて運用された。日本は、93年にBMDについて米国と協議を開始し、99年に共同研究に着手し、2003年にその配備を閣議決定している。BMDが配備され始めたのは2007年のことであった。つまり、今回の事態におけるBMDの運用は、突然、降って湧いたような話ではなく、日本が16年にわたってとってきた一連の措置の成果なのである。勿論、BMDの運用にあたっては、目的地に向かうPAC-3が軽微な交通事故を起こしたり、ミサイル発射の誤警報が出されたりという問題も発生した。しかし、こうした事故は、どの国の軍隊(armed forces)でも実任務の実施上、経験するものであり、将来、その教訓が学ばれるのであれば必ずしも悪いことではない。

最後に、非常時における国民の避難を支援するなどの、国民保護に関する措置もとられた。こうした措置は、2004年に法制化された国民保護法(Civil Protection Law)によって可能になったものである。この法律ができてから、これまで政府や地方自治体が協力し、各種の訓練を行ってきた。また、ウェブサイトには「Civil Protection Portal Site」(http://www.kokuminhogo.go.jp/en/pc-index_e.html)が設けられている。2004年から私が内閣官房に勤務していたとき、同僚たちが国民保護の実施のために熱心に動き回っていたのが思い出される。



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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Yes, we did a good job: Japan's response to the rocket launch