Japan Approves Largest Military Buildup Since WWII Amid China Fears | Japan

Japan has approved its biggest military buildup since World War II, warning that Porcelain it poses the “greatest strategic challenge ever seen” and outlines plans to develop a counter-attack capability financed by record defense spending.

The plans, announced by the government on Friday, reflect growing alarm over a more assertive Chinese military and a North Korean regime that continues to improve its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

But the changes have also sparked criticism that Japan it is abandoning more than seven decades of pacifism under its postwar constitution.

Japan aims to double defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) over the next five years, in a deviation from its postwar commitment to keep spending at 1% of GDP.

The increase would bring it in line with NATO countries and make it the world’s third-biggest spender on defense after the United States and China.

Under the changes, outlined in three documents, Japan will also acquire new weapons that can strike enemy targets 1,000km away with land- or sea-launched missiles, a move some believe violates its war-renouncing constitution.

Article 9 of the constitution, drawn up by the US occupation forces after World War II, renounces war and prohibits Japan from using force to settle international disputes. His army, known as the self-defense forces, is limited to a strictly defensive role. But critics say that has left Japan ill-equipped to respond to current security threats posed by China and North Korea.

While Japanese voters have traditionally been skeptical of direct revision of the constitution, public support for a more robust military has grown since the Ukraine war and amid fears that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan could pose a threat. for the safety of Japan.

One of the documents, the national security strategy, said that Japan was facing “the most severe and complicated national security environment since the end of the war” and singled out China as “the greatest strategic challenge to ensure the peace and stability of Japan”. as well as a “serious concern” for Japan and the international community.

US Ambassador to Tokyo Rahm Emanuel hailed the strategies as “a momentous milestone” for US-Japan relations and making a “free and open Indo-Pacific” an achievable reality.

Debate has also revolved around plans to allow Japan’s self-defense forces to carry out counterattacks against enemy bases abroad, a capability some have said is essential to counter the potential Threat posed by North Korean missiles.

Japan’s government changed the name of what is known as a preemptive strike to a “counter-strike capability,” apparently to emphasize that it would be used strictly in self-defense when the country is faced with signs of imminent attack.

Despite the strategy’s nuanced wording, the main threat is China, which Japan has had to prepare for “using the threat of North Korea as a cover,” said Tomohisa Takei, a retired maritime self-defense force officer.

Despite the government’s consensus on the nature and severity of threats to Japan’s security, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is divided on how increased defense spending should be financed.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has opposed calls to use government bonds to help pay for defense spending, estimated at 43 trillion yen ($320 billion) over the next five years, opting instead for backing tax increases that his party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, backed on Friday.

But tax increases could prove unpopular. In a poll conducted last month by Fuji TV, 66% of respondents opposed higher taxes to pay for a bigger army.

The money will be spent on upgrading Japan’s missile defense and buying up to 500 US-made Tomahawk missiles, according to media reports. Over time, it would deploy more than 1,000 long-range cruise missiles capable of reaching North Korea or China’s coastal areas, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun daily.

Japan is also expected to strengthen its military presence on its southernmost islands, tripling the number of military units and equipping them with the ability to intercept ballistic missiles, according to media reports.

The more forceful tone in the national security strategy is expected to anger China. The document, revised for the first time in nearly a decade, identifies Beijing as a threat to regional security and no longer says Japan seeks a “mutually beneficial strategic partnership” with China.

This week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged Japan to “act on the political consensus that the two countries are cooperative partners and do not pose a threat to each other.”

“Exaggerating the ‘threat from China’ to find an excuse for its military development is doomed to fail,” Wang said.

The new strategy represents a pronounced shift in Japan’s military posture, said Chris Hughes, a professor of international politics and Japanese studies at the University of Warwick.

“The Japanese government will describe these changes as necessary, moderate and fully in line with the previous defense posture,” said Hughes, author of Japan as a Global Military Power. But, he added, “they will, in the words often used by the Liberal Democratic Party itself in policy documents, ‘radically strengthen’ Japan’s military power.”

The self-defense groups will be reorganized, with the army, navy and air force under joint command to respond more quickly to emergencies.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *