Japan Unveils $320 Billion Military Roadmap Due To "Strategic Challenge Posed By China"
After having virtually no military to speak of since WWII, Japan on Friday unveiled a $320 billion plan that will allow the largely pacifist nation to strike China or other regional foes, and will ready it for a sustained conflict.
The move, telegraphed in late November, comes after Tokyo acknowledged a years-long effort to study ways of beefing up deterrence.
The new plan would take roughly five years to complete, and would make Japan the world's 3rd largest country in terms of military expenditures after the US and China, based on current budgets, Reuters reports. It would include stockpiling spare parts and other munitions, expanding transport capacity, and the development of cyber warfare capabilities. The deal will benefit Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is expected to spearhead development of the longer-range missiles that will constitute Japan's new missile force.
Mitsubiushi will also build Japan's next fighter jet alongside BAE Systems and Leonardo SPA in a joint project between Japan, Britain and Italy which was announced last week - which has received a $5.6 billion allocation.
Foreign companies will also benefit. Japan says it wants ship-launched U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles made by Raytheon Technologies to be part of its new deterrent force.
Other items on Japan's military shopping list over the next five years include interceptor missiles for ballistic missile defence, attack and reconnaissance drones, satellite communications equipment, Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, helicopters, submarines, warships and heavy-lift transport jets. -Reuters
According to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Japan is at a "turning point in history," and that the ramp-up in its military was "my answer to the various security challenges that we face."
His government worries that Russia has set a precedent that will encourage 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. -Reuters
"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," reads a strategy paper, which adds that "the strategic challenge posed by China is the biggest Japan has ever faced," pointing out that Beijing has not ruled out using force to subdue Taiwan.
"The Ukraine war has shown us the necessity of being able to sustain a fight, and that is something Japan has not so far been prepared for," said retired Air Self-Defense Force general, Toshimichi Nagaiwa. "Japan is making a late start, it is like we are 200 metres behind in a 400-metre sprint."
Meanwhile in a separate national security document, Japan has promised a close cooperation with the United States and its allies in order to deter threats to the current international order.
"The Prime Minister is making a clear, unambiguous strategic statement about Japan’s role as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific," said U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel. "He has put a capital “D” next to Japan’s deterrence."
Meeting Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi in Taipei on Friday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she expected greater defence 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,” the presidential office cited Tsai as saying. -Reuters
"This is setting a new heading for Japan. If appropriately executed, the Self-Defense Forces will be a real, world-class effective force," according to former Maritime Self Defense Force admiral, Yoji Koda, who commanded the Japanese fleet in 2008.
Kishida's plan will double defense expenditures to around 2% of GDP over five years. The previous level had been a self-imposed 1% spending limit established in 1976. It will increase the defense ministry's budget to around 10% of all public spending at current levels.
To pay for the plan, Kishida's ruling block earlier on Friday announced increases in tobacco taxes, along with corporate and disaster-reconstruction income taxes.