Pacifist Japan unveils biggest military build-up since WWII

TOKYO: Japan on Friday unveiled its biggest military buildup since World War 2 with a $320 billion plan that will buy missiles capable of striking China and ready it for sustained conflict, as regional tensions and Russia’s Ukraine invasion stoke war fears.
It“is my answer to the various security challenges that we face”, said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, describing Japan and its people as being at a “turning point in history”.
His government worries that Russia has set a precedent that will encourage China to attack Taiwan, threatening nearby Japanese islands, disrupting supplies of advanced semiconductors and putting a potential stranglehold on sea lanes that supply West Asian oil. “This is setting a new heading for Japan.
If appropriately executed, the Self-Defense Forces will be a real, world-class effective force,” said Yoji Koda, a former Maritime Self-Defense Force admiral, who commanded the Japanese fleet in 2008.
In the sweeping five-year plan, once unthinkable in pacifist Japan, the government said it would also stockpile spare parts and other munitions, expand transport capacity and develop cyber warfarecapabilities. In its postwar, American-authored constitution, Japan gave up the right to wage war and means to do so.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a serious violation of laws that forbid the use of force and has shaken the foundations of the international order,” the strategy paper said. “The strategic challenge posed by China is the biggest Japan has ever faced,” it added, also noting that Beijing had not ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.
A separate national security strategy document that pointed to China, Russia and North Korea, promised close cooperation with the US andother like-minded nations to deter threats to the established international order.
“The PM is making a clear, unambiguous strategic statement about Japan’s role as a security provider in the IndoPacific,” US ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “He has put a capital “D” next to Japan’s deterrence,” he added.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday that she expected greater defence cooperation with Japan.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The Ukraine war has shown us the necessity of beingable to sustain a fight, and it is something Japan has not so far been prepared for,” said Toshimichi Nagaiwa, a retired Air Self-Defense Force general. “Japan is making a late start, it is like we are 200 metres behind in a 400-metre sprint.”
Chinese defence spending overtook Japan’s at the turn of the century, and now has a military budget more than four times larger. Too few munitions and a lack of spare parts that ground planes and put other equipment out of action are the most immediate problems for Japan to tackle, sources said.
Kishida’s plan will double defence outlays to about 2% of GDP over five years, blowing past a self-imposed 1% spending limit that has been in place since 1976. It will increase the defence ministry’s budget to around a tenth of all public spending at current levels, and will make Japan the world’s third-biggest military spender after the US and China, based on current budgets.
That splurge will provide work to Japanese military equipment makers such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is expected to lead development of three of the longer-range missiles that will be part of the new missile force. Foreign firms will also benefit.

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