Self-Protection Requires Japanese Military Buildup: U.S. Rear Admiral


OSAKA — Japan should continue building up its military forces for future self-protection, Rear Adm. James Cossey, commander of U.S. naval forces in Japan, said Thursday.

“Maritime forces will be the first line of defense in wartime,” said Cossey. “If you don’t do it at sea, then you’re going to do it on land here in Japan.”

Cossey spoke to about 100 foreign and Japanese business and government leaders at an international forum hosted by the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said that Japan must look beyond the government’s “artificial limit” of 1 percent of the nation’s budget for military spending.

“One percent is a problem here in the theoretical sense,” he said. “But it’s not a problem in the actual sense.”

Cossey stressed that Japan, as a U.S. ally, needs to protect itself and its economic “interests” throughout the Pacific region and even in the Persian Gulf.

The American government and U.S. Navy “would welcome increased capability” of such Japanese forces, he said.

Cossey, who has been head of U.S. naval forces in Japan for two years, also suggested a buildup of nuclear submarines be a part of Japan’s military arsenal despite domestic concerns.

“Nuclear phobia is relative,” he said, citing Japan’s consumer dependence on nuclear energy.

“From an analytical point of view, I could demonstrate that the need would be justified” for military purposes, he said. “I think it has merit.”

Cossey said that the Navy will continue its presence in Japan despite problems with military housing in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, and protests against U.S. aircraft night landings at Miyakejima, south of Tokyo.

“We’re in a little bit of a box” regarding the island, he said.

“I can’t predict politics,” said Cossey, “but I know of no intention, no desire or no indications that we are going to change.”