In an effort to strengthen its defenses, including the use of preemptive strikes, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has set a new target for military spending over the next five years of 43 trillion yen ($318 billion), or 1.5 times the current level.

According to Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, Kishida instructed him and Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki to work on a budget plan that would more than 50% increase Japan’s military spending between 2023 and 2027.

Hamada stated that the purpose of the proposed increase is “to firmly secure the necessities to pursue substantial reinforcement” of Japan’s defense.

In a significant departure from Japan’s self-defense-only postwar principle, Kishida’s government is currently finalizing a revision to its national security strategy and mid- to long-term defense policies.

Preemptive strikes, according to critics, may infringe on Japan’s pacifist constitution.

A “strike-back” capability, according to the government, can only be utilized in the event of an imminent enemy attack.

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The budget and the three key documents are anticipated toward the end of December.

Over the past ten years, Japan has steadily increased its military spending and role in international defense.

Citing a NATO standard, it plans to double its military budget to about 2% of GDP in the next five to ten years in response to increasing threats from North Korea and China’s territorial assertiveness.

The ruling party of Kishida wants to increase Japan’s annual defense budget by about 70 billion dollars, making it the third-largest military spender in the world after the United States and China.

Japan must urgently strengthen its deterrence, according to a government-commissioned experts’ panel’s report from last month. This includes adding cruise missiles, interceptors, and other equipment, as well as improving commercial ports and airports for emergency military use.

But it’s hard to pay for the increase when a country already has a large national debt and a population that is getting older and smaller.

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It would appear that Kishida’s plan was a compromise between the Finance Ministry’s proposal of 35 trillion yen ($260 billion) and the Liberal Democratic Party’s initial request of 48 trillion yen ($355 billion) for the next five years.

Plans for Japan’s tactical development and spending increment likewise are a delicate issue for the vast majority of its neighbors, including the two Koreas, which were casualties of Japanese hostility in the principal half of the 1900s.

In the meantime, China has increased its claims to nearly the entire South China Sea by building artificial islands with military installations and airfields, which has sparked concern in Tokyo.

In addition, Beijing asserts its claim to a group of islands in the East China Sea that are under Japan’s control. It has also intensified its military harassment of Taiwan, a self-governing nation that Beijing claims can be annexed by force if necessary.

Source: AP

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