EXPLAINER: Why Japan is boosting its arms capability, budget
Japan is one of the world’s leading arms exporters, and it has a good reason for this. The country faces several security threats, including ongoing tensions with China and North Korea. To bolster its arms capabilities, Japan has announced a record-breaking budget for its military. The government plans to spend $54 billion on defense in the next fiscal year, an increase of nearly 10 percent from this year’s budget. This money will go toward buying new weapons and equipment and improving Japan’s aging military hardware. With so much at stake, Japan must have the best tools to protect itself. Read on to learn more about why Japan is boosting its arms capability.
Japan’s recent decision to spend $1.5 billion on arms procurement clearly shows that the country is feeling threatened by regional powers such as China and North Korea.
The decision was made during the Japanese government’s 2018 budget presentation, and it will be used to purchase new weapons from American and European companies. Japan hopes this investment will help improve its defense capabilities against threats from abroad, particularly in the East Asia region.
Experts say that Japan is concerned mainly about the growing power of China and North Korea, which are both developing militaries at an alarming rate. In particular, Beijing has been upgrading its military facilities at an unprecedented pace, while Pyongyang has been increasing its nuclear arsenal.
With these threats in mind, Japan has decided to bolster its forces with new equipment from top-tier manufacturers. This investment will improve Japan’s defense posture and reassure allies and partners in the region that Tokyo is committed to defending them against any potential aggression.
DOUBLING DEFENSE SPENDING
Tokyo is increasing its defense spending by 10.5 percent to ¥2.06 trillion in 2018, marking the third consecutive year of government-ordered increases, as tensions rise with China and North Korea. The growth is primarily based on an assessment that China has continued to modernize its armed forces and expand its military footprint in the East and South China seas. Japan’s pacifist constitution prohibits using power for defensive purposes, but it maintains a self-defense force that can used to protect its islands and territories. Critics argue that Tokyo’s arms buildup will only reinforce Beijing’s belief that Japan cannot trusted as an ally. At the same time, some say the money could better spent on social welfare programs or infrastructure development.
Japan is boosting its arms capability and budget in response to perceived rising threats from China and North Korea. The country plans to spend $42 billion on defense in the next five years, more than any other country in Asia. This increase comes after a string of maritime disputes with China, including a dispute over islands in the East China Sea and an incident where a Chinese boat collided with a Japanese coast guard vessel. In addition, North Korea has continued to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, posing a long-term threat to Japan’s security.
Japan has been modernizing its military for some time now, but this recent boost in funding is necessary to keep up with China’s rapid armament buildup. Some new equipment purchased includes advanced fighter jets, anti-ship missiles, and ground-to-ground missiles. Japan also plans to buy amphibious assault vehicles and drones to support its Marines.
This increase in defense spending will likely result in higher prices for goods and services related to the military. Still, Japan must invest in its defense capabilities, given the growing threats from China and North Korea.
CHINA AS ‘GREATEST STRATEGIC CHALLENGE’
There’s no question that China is the world’s largest economy and second-largest military power. But with its growing population and expansive territory, Beijing also increasingly viewed as a significant global player – a “strategic challenge,” in defense officials’ words.
So what does Japan see as its top strategic priority? According to the lawmaker representing Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), one of China’s critical threats involves Beijing encroaching on Tokyo’s sphere of influence in Asia. To counter this, Japan has beefed up its military capabilities, spending $41 billion over the past five years on new weapons systems like Aegis vessels and F-35 fighter jets. And earlier this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced an additional $10 billion would earmarked for defense expenditure over the next five years.
Some observers say Japan’s moves understandable given China’s aggressive behavior in the East and South China Seas – where it has built up islands and erected airfields capable of hosting military aircraft – and its efforts to assert itself as a regional superpower. Others contend that Tokyo is taking things too far by staging regular joint military exercises with Washington that involve dispatching nuclear-powered warships to waters near mainland China. Whatever the case may be, analysts agree that Japan must keep a close eye on developments in China if it wants to stay ahead of Beijing in the arms race.
STILL EXCLUSIVELY SELF-DEFENSE?
The Japanese government is investing heavily in its military capabilities, with a projected budget increase of 7.5% in 2017. The country ranks 4th in the world in terms of military spending, behind the United States, China, and Russia. While Japan’s arms capability may not be as advanced as some of its rivals, it remains one of the most self-sufficient militaries in the world.
One reason for this is Japan’s pacifist tradition. Until 1945, when Allied forces invaded Japan, it did not have a standing army or defense infrastructure. After World War II, Japan developed its own weapons industry and has since been one of the world’s top arms dealers. This self-reliance has paid off: In recent years, Japan has played a leading role in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide and has successfully maintained stability despite heightened geopolitical tensions.
Japan’s increased military spending also motivated by concerns over China’s territorial expansionism. Beijing has made its intentions clear to become a global power and has aggressively built up its army and navy. The Japanese government views this as a threat not just to Japan but also to neighboring countries such as South Korea and Taiwan—all of which members of the US-led alliance called “the Pacific Alliance.”