The United States, which is proceeding to cut its defense budget, has come up with a defense strategy to firmly maintain its “pivot to Asia” stance. We praise the United States' determination to demonstrate its stance to counter China's naval advancement.
The U.S. Defense Department has announced a quadrennial defense review (QDR), the second under the administration of President Barack Obama.
While army troop strength will be reduced to the lowest level since the end of World War II, special operations forces and cyberdefense measures will be boosted, taking into consideration such factors as the period of fiscal austerity that the nation faces. Factors also include a planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that will close a chapter in the war on terrorism in that country. It is quite appropriate to attach importance to military mobility and technology to respond to changes in the security environment.
In its Asia policy, the QDR says the United States will strengthen its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, where peace and stability “is increasingly central to U.S. political, economic and security interests.”
It is particularly significant that the 2014 QDR stipulates that “By 2020, 60 percent of U.S. Navy assets will be stationed in the Pacific.” It also points to enhancements to its critical naval presence in Japan.
It is also noteworthy that the United States will proceed with the marines' relocation from Okinawa Prefecture to Guam and enhance air force reconnaissance capabilities.
The United States must have concluded that it should demonstrate afresh its presence with these measures to deter China's self-centered naval advancement.
Indeed, the QDR indicates a strong sense of alarm toward China, by highlighting China's deployment of an anti-access and area-denial strategy against U.S. forces on the seas, its lack of military transparency and its improvement in cyber-related and space-related technologies.
Japan must play key role
The United States will deploy a second early warning radar system in Japan out of concern over North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, according to the review. This is because the United States sees the unstable Kim Jong Un regime as a threat.
To enhance the efficacy of the U.S. “pivot to Asia” strategy, Japan must fulfill an appropriate role.
To strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, it must swiftly change the interpretation of the Constitution concerning the right to collective self-defense to allow the nation to exercise it.
It is also necessary to establish a framework to have the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces work together more closely even in peacetime, through a second revision to the bilateral defense cooperation guidelines scheduled for the year's end.
However, we are concerned that it is unclear whether U.S. deterrence in Asia will be maintained in the future.
The U.S. government is obliged to cut the defense budget by $500 billion over a 10-year period.
According to the QDR, if the defense budget reduction continues as planned, it will be difficult for U.S. forces to maintain the nation's current 11-carrier strike system, adversely affecting the crisis response capabilities of U.S. forces as a whole.
What should be done to maintain the U.S. forces' deterrence in Asia in the future? The QDR expects such allies as Japan, Australia and South Korea to play additional leadership roles to supplement U.S. efforts. Now U.S. allies are urged to provide their wisdom and skills in this regard.