It is the most drastic change in Japan’s security strategy since the country adopted an anti-war constitution after World War II.
The government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Friday that his country will double its military spending in the next five yearsIt will equip itself with the necessary defense means to attack enemy military bases and will increase its cyber warfare capabilities.
Among the justifications offered to explain these measures, reference was made to the threat posed by China and North Korea.
“Unfortunately, in the vicinity of our country, there are countries carrying out activities such as increasing nuclear capacity, rapidly accumulating military power, and unilaterally trying to change the status quo by force,” Kishida said.
missiles and millions
The Japanese prime minister told reporters that his country’s defense budget will increase to 2% of GDP by 2027.
“Over the next five years, to fundamentally strengthen our defense capabilities, we will implement a defense development program valued at 43 trillion yen ($314 billion)“, he pointed.
That amount is equivalent to the annual GDP of a country like Chile.
In addition, Tokyo will acquire long-range US missiles capable of hitting other countries’ launch sites if they decide to attack Japan.
A national security strategy document approved by the Japanese cabinet and quoted by the AFP news agency described China as “the biggest strategic challenge to ensure peace and stability in Japan.”
The text noted that Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to assert control over Taiwan.
The Chinese embassy in Japan responded by accusing Tokyo of making false claims about its military activities.
Also there are concerns in Japan about North Korea’s missile capability.
Pyongyang has fired more than 50 missiles in the past three months, including a ballistic missile at Japan in October for the first time in five years.
An earlier national security document, approved in 2013, described China and Russia as Japan’s strategic partners.
However, this time, in addition to the accusations about Beijing, Moscow is criticized, stating that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a “serious violation of laws prohibiting the use of force” that it has “shaken the foundations of the international order”.
Pushing the limits of defense
Since the end of World War II, Japan’s military capabilities have been deliberately contained.
The Constitution of that country, promulgated in 1947, establishes in its article 9 that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as the sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”
In practice, this has meant that Japan’s military forces have limited their capabilities to self-defence, although the notion of what this implies has been reinterpreted and adapted to changes in the international context.
One of the great changes in this regard occurred in 2014 when the government of Shinzo Abe promoted a reinterpretation of the constitutional norm related to the defense of the homeland.
“Abe’s cabinet approved a reinterpretation of Article 9 which said that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, if necessary for Japan’s security and survival, could use force on behalf of other nations such as the United States or Australia, for example. It was a very carefully worded reinterpretation,” Sheila Smith, senior researcher for Asia Pacific studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (a Washington-based think tank) explained to BBC Mundo in July of this year.
Then, in 2015, a new law was drafted based on that reinterpretation. A) Yes, the Self-Defense Forces obtained the possibility of using force in support of other countries if necessary for the safety of Japan.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), to which Abe belonged and now led by Kishida, has spent years proposing to make some adjustments to the constitutional text to adapt it to a more difficult regional security environment.
Although there is no consensus on the substance or details, surveys indicate that at this time a majority of public opinion in the country supports some kind of expansion of the country’s military capabilities.
The percentage of 2% of GDP for defense spending proposed by Kishida coincides with the target set in 2006 by NATO members, Japan’s Western allies.
Although many NATO countries are still short of that target, Germany expects to reach it in the next few years and the UK has surpassed it and is now aiming to reach 3% by 2030.
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