Japan urged to embrace U.S.-style think tanks

Right before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved the nation’s new long-term National Security Strategy in mid-December, the independent think tank Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, composed of prominent Japanese and American scholars, compiled its own approach.

Both the government and RJIF concur about many aspects in the two strategies, especially where they both see China’s re-emergence and growing maritime assertiveness as concerning. However, their approaches to countering China differ.

While the government plans to enhance the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces, including creating an amphibious force akin to the U.S. Marine Corps, the foundation is focused on what it calls “quiet deterrence.”

Japan must be well-prepared for crises, but it is important not to provoke China by brandishing the country’s deterrence capability, said foundation head Yoichi Funabashi, a former editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun. “We have to do it quietly,” he added, without elaborating.

RJIF is one of the few emerging independent policy think tanks in Japan that can offer drastic recommendations put together by both Japanese and non-Japanese scholars free of outside influences, at a time when the county needs more innovative policies to challenge and compete with those of the government.[Full story]