The secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan, Akira Amari, on Saturday presented the new government’s economic security policy focusing on the two pillars of “strategic autonomy and essentiality”. “‘Self-reliance’ means understanding our choke points and rectifying them … being indispensable means securing the choke points of others,” Amari told the Mount Fuji Dialogue, a meeting of experts on the US alliance. Japanese, via a video message.
Amari has focused in recent years on creating policies that allow Japan to become less dependent on other countries, while expanding in areas that are essential to others. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s new administration created the post of minister overseeing economic security which went to Amari’s protege and Amari said he would table legislation promoting the agenda next year.
Amari faces an uphill battle in her home district with just over a week before the October 31 lower house election, with a campaign focused not only on recovery from the pandemic, but also on the security posture given an increasingly assertive China. Its economic security agenda encompasses a wide range of issues, ranging from the protection of sensitive technologies to issues such as communications, energy, transportation, maritime logistics, finance and health care.
“We need to check whether our supply chains are able to provide a stable supply of essential goods,” Amari said. “If we have supply chains in countries at risk, we should transfer them to our allies or produce at home even though it is more expensive.” He said this included “low-tech items” such as medical masks and gloves whose production cannot be covered by Japan alone.
Japan experienced a severe shortage of medical equipment when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. The LDP said in its election platform that it would “reconsider” its response to increased Chinese military activity around the Taiwan Strait and the western Pacific islets controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.
It would aim to increase the defense budget “with the aim of raising it even above 2%” of GDP, the party said, in marked departure from Japan’s policy of spending less than 1% of GDP on defense for decades.
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