Japan calls for ‘significant increase’ in military spending

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Japan has called for a “significant increase” in military spending by raising taxes, a news report has claimed.  The Times reported that Mr Kishida has called for a “significant increase” in defence spending, while there is a growing consensus in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) around raising the military budget to about 2 percent of GDP, the benchmark level for NATO countries.

Although not stipulated in the Japanese constitution, the pacifist nation has for decades kept spending below the 1 percent of GDP mark.

The Times stated: “However, against a background of an increasingly assertive China, a cooling of relations with Russia — with which Japan has a territorial dispute — over the war in Ukraine and North Korea testing missiles and other weaponry at a record pace, the rationale for expanding defence capabilities is strengthening.”

The panel has also recommended that public spending in other areas should be cut and the government should avoid relying on issuing bonds to finance a bigger military budget.

Mr Kishida earlier this year pledged to drastically reinforce Japan’s military capability and spending in the face of China’s increasingly assertive activities as well as threats from North Korea and Russia.

The recommendations in the report, compiled by 10 independent experts and submitted to Kishida on Tuesday, said Japan needs to strengthen its economy to pay for military spending, while reinforcing the arms industry and research and development of dual-use cutting edge technology.

Japan should improve commercial infrastructure for military use in an emergency and beef up cybersecurity, it said.

Possession and reinforcement of counterstrike capability is indispensable for Japan to maintain and advance deterrence, the report said, citing a major change of power balance in the Indo-Pacific, rapid strengthening of nuclear and missile capabilities in neighbouring countries and deployment of ultra-hypersonic missiles and those launched on irregular trajectory.

The panel said Japan needs drastic military buildup over the next five years.

It also called for deployment of a sufficient number of missiles, including so-called standoff or long-range missiles for striking enemy targets from outside of their firing range.

Development of its own standoff missiles would take time and the report suggested more purchases of foreign missiles in the short term.

The New York Times reported that in 2021, less than 2 percent of all government-sponsored research was allocated to defense in Japan, compared with close to half in the United States and 10 percent in France, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The news report further explained: “But last year, the Japanese government authorized record-high research and development spending within its overall defense budget, more than double the level of five years earlier.

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“This year, the defense ministry has made another record-setting request that includes a greater emphasis on domestic weapons development.

“The governing Liberal Democratic Party has proposed that Japan increase its defense budget to 2 percent of economic output over the next five years — up from about 1 percent — a goal that would align with members of NATO.”

The Cabinet of Kishida will issue its official budget plan next month, and Parliament will vote on it early next year.

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