On June 5 the government released a draft of its midyear "framework policy." The Cabinet is scheduled to adopt it as a guideline for its economic and fiscal management in June.
Drastic strengthening of Japan's defense capability is called for, says the report. It goes on to note that the current international order is at a "historical turning point exposing [Japan] to serious challenges." Based on the results of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, among other things, it advocates "solidarity with the G7 and increased involvement with the Global South (a term used to refer to emerging and developing countries, especially in the Southern Hemisphere)."
An Outline for Action
To achieve this, the report calls on Japan to "strengthen its comprehensive power." This includes its diplomatic and economic power for the development of human resources infrastructure and financial bases.
From the outset, the report is colored by Russia's aggression in Ukraine and the downturn in the global economy. It points out that Japan is "facing historical and structural changes and challenges at home and abroad," such as rapidly declining births.
The security environment is "the most severe and complex since the end of World War II," according to the draft. It proposes that Japan "build a sustainable defense industry, address various risks, and promote defense equipment transfers." These also ensure the stable procurement of defense equipment, it says. The three security documents approved by the Cabinet in late 2022 provide the basis for these actions.
It specifically calls for Japan to leverage "comprehensive national power, including diplomatic and economic power as well as defense capabilities." The draft further calls on Japan to "reinforce a comprehensive defense system."
Steady North Korea Policy, Energy Security
Policy concerning North Korea remains the same as in 2022. It is based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of 2002 in which the two parties also agreed to comprehensively resolve various issues. Those include North Korea's abductions, nuclear weapons, and missiles. With those resolved, the parties would also work toward the normalization of diplomatic relations.
In addition, the outline also mentions that Japan has since 2022, taken steps to diversify its energy procurement sources. That includes securing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in cooperation with Asian countries. It also notes that Japan will "work to ensure a stable supply of energy.
Economic Security and Kishida's 'New Capitalism'
Another focus of the proposed plan is economic security policy. It calls for a decision to be made soon on the introduction of a system of security clearances. Under this policy, only personnel thoroughly screened for security risks would be authorized to handle classified information.
At the same time, it calls for achieving the "new capitalism" proposed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. This envisions having "public and private sectors to work together to solve social issues and to link this to sustainable growth as an engine of growth."
Furthermore, it addresses correcting the decline in births, which it characterizes as "our most effective investment for the future." The draft emphasizes that the government will seek "to reverse the trend of declining births by making a concerted effort to drastically strengthen the government's unprecedented initiatives in line with the Strategic Policy for the Future of Children." This strategy is due to be drawn up later in June. Its measures are sure to include the expansion of child-rearing allowances.
Recently, COVID-19 was reclassified to Category 5 under the Infectious Disease Control Law. Noting the change, the draft states that the government will conduct surveys and research to ascertain the actual status of aftereffects from the virus and adverse reactions to vaccines.
Problematic 'My Number' Card System
Comments in the draft also address the glitch-plagued "My Number" card system. On this, the draft states that government agencies must collectively cooperate "to ensure its safety and confidence in the system."
In addition, the draft makes clear that the current health insurance cards will be abolished in the fall of 2024.
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(Read the report in Japanese.)
Author: The Sankei Shimbun