Japan set to become one of world’s biggest defence spenders

TOKYO: Japan is set to pass its biggest increase in defense spending since the end of the war, putting it on the path to becoming one of the world’s top military spenders.
In a defense ministry budget request for fiscal year 2023 scheduled for the end of August, Prime Minister Fumio KishidaThe ruling party is looking to double spending within five years from 5.4 trillion yen ($39.5 billion) this year. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, Japan could push Japan from ninth place in the world in terms of military spending to third place behind the US and China.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s invasion of Taiwan, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons have raised alarms in Japan and helped build public support for spending. more than. The three nuclear-armed countries, whose neighbor Japan also has the three largest militaries in the world, totals 5.5 million people, according to the World Bank. The Japanese military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, has about 231,000 personnel.
Beyond just buying hardware, Japan faces pressure to spend more on less visible items such as wage increases, ammunition, spare parts and logistics.
“Perhaps most people imagine that if we double our defense budget, we will get more equipment,” said retired vice admiral Toshiyuki Ito, now a professor at the Academy of Engineering and Technology. technology Kanazawa, said. “But it’s not just about buying more stuff.”
China has provided a reminder of what is at stake by firing ballistic missiles that land near Japan’s southwestern islands during military drills around Taiwan this month. Kishida has warned that Taiwan is on the front lines of an impasse between China and the US and that an unusual incident in the Taiwan Strait would have huge consequences for Japan.
Japan has traditionally kept its defense budget at around 1% of gross domestic product, relying on the US “nuclear umbrella” to support its own capabilities under its pacifist constitution. But, in an unusual move, no limit will be imposed on spending requests at this time, Mainichi newspaper and other media have reported.
While the Defense Ministry’s initial request for fiscal year 2023 would mark a relatively modest increase to 5.5 trillion yen ($40.2 billion), Kyodo News reported, Kyodo News reported. The final number is expected to be higher when the cost is unknown for about 100 finished items.
The ministry is reviewing new hardware including improved missiles and radar systems that can intercept missiles from China and North Korea – including hypersonic systems – and introducing a combat drone, the Yomiuri said. Japan plans to access an arsenal of about 1,000 missiles that can be fired from ships and aircraft and reach North Korea and China, the newspaper said.
Yomiuri reports that there will be a budget to co-develop a next-generation fighter with the UK.
Despite his career in the SDF’s maritime division, Ito saw no need for more warships. Tokyo must improve paying its military, he added, or it will struggle to find enough pilots even as it expands its fighter fleet.
If more cash is available, Ito advocates spending on non-traditional things like recruiting “white hat” hackers to help protect power grids.

Stepped up

Japan’s SDF has about 16,000 fewer personnel than expected in the budget. That shortfall is partly due to a lack of age-appropriate candidates in the world’s oldest country, experts say, but also an over-paid attitude.
Alessio Patalano, professor of war & strategy in East Asia at Kings College London, said: “Managing the personnel and overall health of Japanese servicemen should be central,” said:
A college graduate who joins the army at officer level earns about 3.6 million yen ($26,400) in the first year, rising to 6 million by the age of 40, according to the Defense Ministry. This can be supplemented with allowances for hazardous positions. A US military officer can earn around $62,000 after four years of experience.
According to Corey Wallace, assistant professor at Kanagawa University in Yokohama, concerned that Japan might lack the staying power if conflict breaks out by building up stockpiles of ammunition, fuel and parts, as well as logistics units.
Japan has been gradually increasing defense spending over the past decade, after the policy of turning back initiated by the late Prime Minister. Shinzo Abe when he took office in 2012.
The price hike plan met with a positive response in opinion polls after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, with about 50% of respondents to a June survey by Jiji Press approving the increase. . However, most have struggled as budgets double in the world’s most indebted country.
Aurelia George Mulgan, a professor specializing in Japanese politics and regional security at the University of New South Wales, said that split over the extent of the change could cause a political stalemate. She sees a “possible battle on the road” between Kishida and his new Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamadawho may seek to keep spending under control, and hawks within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, some warn that strengthening defenses may not achieve the results Japan hopes, unless it is accompanied by sound foreign and economic policy.
“Japan cannot make itself safer just by increasing defense spending,” said Naoko Aoki, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Asia Security Initiative. “Japan’s increased defensive capabilities could pose a threat to other countries in the region, prompting them to respond kindly and no one better than before.”

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