Japan Unveils Five-Year, $320 Billion Military Budget

Japan unveiled its biggest military build-up on Friday since the World War II, a five-year budget worth $320 billion, which includes purchases of missiles capable of striking China and prepare the country for sustained conflict, as regional tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grow concerns. The new plan will make Japan, which had followed a pacifist strategy since the WWII, the world’s third largest military spender after the United States and China. Prime Minister Kishida said, describing Japan and its citizens as being at a 1turning point in history”, the ramp up in spending was “my answer to the various security challenges that we face”.

The government has been worried that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could set a precedent for China to attack Taiwan, threatening nearby Japanese islands, disrupting supplies of advanced semiconductors and putting a potential stranglehold on sea lanes that supply Middle East oil.

The government said it would also stockpile spare parts and other munitions, expand transport capacity and develop cyber warfare capabilities. In its postwar, American-authored constitution, Japan gave up the right to wage war and means to do so.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a serious violation of laws that forbid the use of force and has shaken the foundations of the international order,” Japan’s strategy paper said.

“The strategic challenge posed by China is the biggest Japan has ever faced,” it added, underlining that Beijing had not ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Another national security strategy document promised close cooperation with the U.S. and other like-minded nations to deter threats to international order, singling out China, Russia and North Korea.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese President Tsai said she was expecting closer defense cooperation with Japan.

“We look forward to Taiwan and Japan continuing to create new cooperation achievements in various fields such as national defence and security, the economy, trade, and industrial transformation,”

Chinese embassy in Japan said China’s military activities in the new security strategy were false claims.

China defence spending overtook Japan’s at the turn of the century, and now has a military budget more than four times larger. Too few munitions and a lack of spare parts that ground planes and put other military equipment out of action are the most immediate problems for Japan to tackle.

The government’s new spending plan will double defense outlays to about 2% of GDP over five years, from a previous self-imposed 1% limit that the has been in place since 1976. It will also increase defense ministry’s spending to around a tenth of all public spending.

The new military budget will provide work to Japanese industrial giants such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which is expected to lead development of three of the longer-range missiles that will be part of Japan’s new missile force.

MHI will also build Japan’s next jet fighter alongside BAE Systems and Leonardo in a joint project between Japan, Britain and Italy announced last week.

Tokyo allocated $5.6 billion for that project in the five-year defense programme.

Foreign defense companies will also benefit from the new plan. Japan intends to buy ship-launched U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles to be part of its new deterrent force.

Other items on Japan’s list over the next five years include interceptor missiles for ballistic missile defense, attack and reconnaissance drones, satellite communications equipment, F-35 stealth fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, warships and heavy-lift transport jets.

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