TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan on Friday unveiled its biggest military build-up since World War Two with a $320 billion plan to buy missiles capable of hitting China and setting it up for continued conflict, while stoking regional tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. war fears.
The comprehensive, five-year plan, which would have been unthinkable in a peaceful Japan, would make it the world’s third-largest military spender after the United States and China, based on current budgets.
Describing Japan and its people as being at a “turning point in history,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the intensification was “my answer to the various security challenges we face.”
His government fears Russia has set a precedent that would embolden China to attack Taiwan, threaten nearby Japanese islands, disrupt supplies of advanced semiconductors and establish potential control of sea lanes that supply oil to the Middle East.
“This sets a new benchmark for Japan. If implemented appropriately, the SDF will be a real and effective force on a world-class level,” said Yoji Koda, a former naval admiral in the Self-Defense Force who commanded the Japanese fleet in 2008. .
The government said it would also stockpile other spare parts and munitions, increase transport capacity and develop electronic warfare capabilities. In its post-war constitution drawn up by the United States, Japan gave up both the right to wage war and the means to do so.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a serious violation of the laws prohibiting the use of force and shakes the foundations of the international order,” the strategy paper states.
She added, “The strategic challenge posed by China is the greatest challenge Japan has ever faced,” noting that Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
A separate national security strategy document that cited China, Russia and North Korea promised close cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries to deter threats to the established international order.
“The prime minister is making a clear and unequivocal strategic statement on Japan’s role as a provider of security in the Indo-Pacific region,” US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “He put a big D next to the Japanese deterrent force,” he added.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, during her meeting with Japanese-Taiwanese Exchange Association President Mitsuo Ohashi in Taipei on Friday, said she expects greater defense cooperation with Japan.
“We look forward to Taiwan and Japan continuing to make new cooperation achievements in various fields such as national defense and security, economy and trade and industrial transformation,” the presidential office quoted Tsai as saying.
China has accused Japan of making false allegations about China’s military activities in the new security strategy, according to a statement from its embassy in Japan.
“The Ukraine war showed us the necessity of being able to keep fighting, and that’s something Japan wasn’t ready for until now,” said Toshimichi Nagaiwa, a retired general from the Air Self-Defense Forces. He added, “Japan is starting late, as if we are 200 meters behind in the 400-meter race.”
China’s defense spending exceeded that of Japan at the turn of the century, and it now has a military budget four times larger. Military sources told Reuters that a lack of ammunition and a shortage of spare parts that disable ground planes and other military equipment are the most pressing problems that Japan has to address.
Kishida’s plan would double defense expenditures to about 2% of GDP over five years, exceeding the 1% spending limit the company has imposed since 1976.
It would increase the defense budget to about a tenth of public spending at current levels, and would make Japan the world’s third largest military spender after the United States and China, based on current budgets.
This splurge would provide work for Japanese military equipment makers such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). (7011.T)which is expected to lead the development of three of the long-range missiles that will be part of Japan’s new missile force.
Tokyo has set aside $5.6 billion for that in its five-year defense programme.
Foreign companies will also benefit. Japan says it wants US ship-launched Tomahawk missiles made by Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) to be part of its new deterrent force.
Other items on Japan’s military shopping list for the next five years include interceptors for ballistic missile defense, attack and reconnaissance drones, satellite communications equipment, Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, helicopters, submarines, warships and transport aircraft. heavy.
To pay for this equipment, the Kishida ruling bloc said earlier Friday it would raise income taxes on tobacco, businesses and reconstruction. But with opposition to tax increases within his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the Japanese leader has yet to say when he will implement those higher rates.
Additional reporting by Tim Kelly, Sakura Murakami and Nobuhiro Kubo in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Eduardo Baptista in Shanghai; Editing by David Dolan, Gerry Doyle, John Boyle and William Maclean
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