Japan’s economic security revolves around strategic autonomy and indispensability

On Saturday, a top party official from the Japanese government said, Tokyo’s economic security strategy will revolve around the two pillars of “strategic autonomy and indispensability”.

The comments come at a time when Japan is facing an increasingly belligerent China.

In recent years, Akira Amari, the secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has driven a policy push for Japan’s economy to be less reliant on other countries, while investing in areas that are indispensable to other countries.

“‘Autonomy’ means understanding our chokepoints and rectifying them,” said Amari in a video message to the Mt. Fuji Dialogue, a meeting of experts on the U.S.-Japan alliance “‘Indispensability’ means securing the chokepoints of others.”

Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, created a post of minister for economic security, which went to an Amari protege.

In a statement Amari said, the government will submit a bill to promote an economic security agenda in 2022.

“We need to check whether our supply chains are able to provide a stable supply of critical goods,” said Amari. “If we have supply chains in risky countries, we should shift them to our allies or produce at home even if it’s more expensive.”

Although Amari did not call out China by name in his remarks, his economic strategy included sensitive technologies as well as “low-tech items” such as medical masks and gloves, whose production cannot be covered by Japan alone.

Japan experienced an acute shortage of medical equipment when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

The LDP’s election platform vows to “reconsider” how to respond to an increase in China’s military activity around the Taiwan strait and islets in the western Pacific controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.

Japan aims to raise its defense budget “with an eye to bringing it even above 2%” of GDP, said the LDP, in a marked departure from Japan’s decades-long policy of spending less than 1% of GDP on defense.

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