As regional tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fuel war worries, Japan has announced that it will start a hitherto unthinkable $320 billion military build-up that will equip it with missiles capable of striking China and prepare it for a protracted struggle.
The administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is concerned that Russia has created a precedent that could inspire China to attack Taiwan, endangering the surrounding Japanese islands, impeding the flow of advanced semiconductors, and possibly blocking sea lanes that transport Middle Eastern oil.
The post-World War II constitution of Japan restricts the military to ostensibly self-defensive powers but refuses to formally recognize it.
The government announced on Friday that as part of its comprehensive five-year plan and reworked national security strategy, it would also stockpile spare parts and other munitions, strengthen logistics, develop cyber-warfare capabilities, and work more closely with the US and other like-minded nations to thwart threats to the existing international order.
According to polls, the majority of citizens support Japan’s quick armament, which was unthinkable under previous administrations. Japan already hosts US forces, including a carrier strike group and a Marine expeditionary unit. According to some surveys, up to 70% of voters approve the measure.
According to Kishida’s proposal, over the next five years, defense spending will double to around 2% of the GDP and the contribution of the defense ministry to all public spending will rise to about 10%.
Based on current budgets, Japan will also become the third-largest military spender in the world, behind the US and China.
Since the ruling Liberal Democratic Party members are still debating whether to raise taxes or borrow money, the five-year spending agenda did not include a specific plan for how Kishida’s government will pay for it.