Japan announced on Friday its largest military build-up since the Second World War, costing $320 billion, marking a significant departure from its long-standing post-war pacifist policy.
According to current budgets, this five-year plan will make the nation, after the United States and China, the third-largest military spender in the world. The three primary security documents for Japan were approved by the cabinet of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on December 16.
“Each and every one of us must have the awareness that we are protecting our country. This is very important, as we have learned from Ukraine,” Prime Minister Kishida said in a news conference. “We are now at a turning point of our national security policy,” a Washington Post report quoted him saying.
According to analysts, Tokyo might be worried about potential regional threats. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2021 and China’s aggression, which suggested that the world might be considering the possibility of China annexing Taiwan in the future, may have served as catalysts for this stance.
The possibility of China attempting to seize control of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, over which it is embroiled in a territorial dispute with Japan, is another issue that Tokyo may be dealing with.
The importance of Japan’s new defence policy can be attributed to several factors. Japan is not permitted to have offensive military forces under the terms of the post-war constitution, which also states in Article 9 that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of resolving international disputes.”
However, things are a little more complicated because Japan has consistently changed its security strategy since the end of the Cold War in order to improve its capacity to defend itself outside of its own borders and to prepare itself to send troops abroad as needed.
Japan’s armed forces are the sixth best funded in the world, according to a 2012 report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Japan, however, believes that its current defence capabilities are insufficient given the rapidly shifting global environment, as evidenced by new strategy documents released last week.
According to the documents, Japan’s defence strategy will continue to be defense-focused, and counterstrikes will only be used in specific circumstances. Preemptive strikes are not permitted under the new plan.
According to a Reuters report, Japan has plans for close cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries, particularly those in the Indo-Pacific, “to deter threats to the established international order.” The document in question mentions China, Russia, and North Korea as countries that pose security concerns for Japan.