“Japanese Security Policy” at RUSI: Event Review

JMSDF
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Kongō class destroyer | Image: Wikipedia

Event details

“Japanese Security Policy”
The Royal United Services Institute
2014.06.19
Vice Admiral Ito, Japanese Self Defense Force Joint College
Chaired by Peter Roberts
Open to the public; lecture on the record, Q&A off the record

Review

The event began with a food and drinks reception at RUSI’s stately 51 Whitehall. Present were the usual suspects from the big think tanks, students accompanying Admiral Ito from the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) Joint College, members of the press, the generally aged and very white RUSI members, and a few plebs from the public. I talked to a JSDF student who told me—in fairly good English—the he thinks Shinzo Abe is not especially nationalistic and that he worries China might “eat” Taiwan, especially if US commitments in the region falter.

The lecture took place in one of the reading rooms. Admiral Ito spent the majority of his time detailing the history of the JSDF and its evolution from a force only used in war time to one which assists with humanitarian crises, ensures regional stability and prevents power vacuums, and asserts itself against non-state threats (terrorists) in a post- 9/11 environment. He described the JDSF is a tool of “military diplomacy”, engaging in bi and multilateral training exercises and UN peacekeeping operations. It also serves as a deterrent, ready to protect Japan from North Korean missile launches or Chinese attempts to shift regional “balance of power”.

JGSDF
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) during a bilateral training exercise with the US, 2008 | Image: Wikipedia

The Q&A was—unfortunately—off the record. Suffice it to say that Ito’s JSDF was brought abruptly into the present with difficult questions on complex issues.

The whole event was a bait for RUSI’s upcoming International Sea Power Conference, which unfortunately has a large financial barrier to entry (£195–£1,079).

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