Tomahawks part of Japan’s record defense spending next year

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s defense spending will rise 20% to a record 6.8 trillion yen ($55 billion) next year as the country prepares to deploy US-made Tomahawks and other cruise missiles. long-range missiles that can hit targets in China or North Korea. under a more offensive security strategy.

The planned 211.3 billion yen ($1.6 billion) purchase of Tomahawks is a centerpiece of Japan’s 2023 budget plan approved Friday by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet and shows his government’s determination to quickly arm itself with more attack capacity under the new strategy.

In addition, Japan will pay the United States 110 billion yen ($830 million) for the equipment and software needed to launch Tomahawks, as well as fees for technology transfer and personnel training over the next year, Japan officials said. defending.

The sizable budget plan, pending parliamentary approval, is the first installment of a five-year 43 trillion yen ($325 billion) military spending plan under the new defense development plan also announced last week. The new spending target follows the NATO standard and will eventually boost Japan’s annual budget to around 10 trillion yen ($73 billion), the third-biggest in the world after the United States and China.

The budget plan comes a week after the Kishida government announced Japan’s new National Security Strategy, declaring its determination to possess the controversial “counter-strike capability” to preempt enemy attacks and nearly double its spending in the coming five years to guard against the growing risks from China, North Korea and Russia and the growing fear of an emergency in Taiwan.

The strategy is a historic departure from Japan’s exclusively self-defense policy since the end of World War II. China, with its rapid weapons buildup, increasingly assertive military activity, and rivalry with the US, presents “an unprecedented and greatest strategic challenge” to the peace and security of Japan and the international community. , depending on the strategy.

The Tomahawks will deploy for two years, from 2026 to 2027, on Aegis radar-equipped advanced destroyers with vertical launch systems for ship-to-surface attacks, defense officials said.

Japan will also buy more foreign-developed standoff missiles for launch from warplanes: a 500-kilometre (310-mile) range joint strike missile from Norway for F-35A fighters, and the air-to-surface standoff missile Lockheed Martin suite with a range of approximately 900 kilometers (560 mi), for the upgraded F-15s.

Japan will spend 94 billion yen ($710 million) next year to work on the improvement and mass production of Type-12 surface-to-ship guided missiles developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for deployment in the coming years.

To bolster attack capability and range, Japan is adding eight more F-35Bs at 143.5 billion yen ($1.08 billion) capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings on either of two Izumo and Kaga helicopter carriers being modernized for that can be operated. in conjunction with the US Army.

Over the next five years, Japan will spend around 5 trillion yen ($37 billion) on long-range missiles, with deployment starting in four years. Annual spending by 2023 on long-range munitions alone will triple from this year to 828 billion yen ($6.26 billion).

Japan will develop other types of arsenals such as hypersonic weapons and multi-role and unmanned vehicles for possible collaboration with the FX next-generation fighter jet that Japan is developing with Britain and Italy for deployment in 2035. The Defense Ministry is also developing arsenals designed to defend remote southern islands, including a Japanese-controlled East China Sea island in dispute with China.

Using the counterattack capability, Japan needs to fully trust the United States to detect early signs of attacks and determine targets due to a lack of high levels of intelligence and cybersecurity, experts say.

To address the concern, Japan will spend about 100 billion yen ($7.6 million) next year also to bolster cybersecurity to protect Japan’s defense industry and technology.

Japan will also spend 220 billion yen ($1.7 billion) to build two compact destroyers that will be equipped with Aegis radars to strengthen the country’s missile interception capability as a deterrent to advanced missiles.

Another key purchase is UAVs for assault and reconnaissance. Defense officials said they plan to test a number of foreign-developed UAVs, including the Turkish-made Bayraktar used in Ukraine, as well as those from Israel, the United States and the domestically developed Fuji Imvac.

Japan says the ability to counterattack is indispensable and constitutional if it is in response to signs of imminent enemy attack. But experts say it’s extremely difficult to carry out such an attack without risking blame for attacking first. Opponents say the ability to strike goes beyond self-defense under Japan’s post-World War II anti-war constitution, which limits the use of force strictly to defense.

However, that principle was softened in 2015 with then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s constitutional reinterpretation, which allowed Japan to defend its ally, the United States, in what is known as collective self-defense, providing a legal basis for Japan to develop its army. and expand the functions it performs.

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