EDITORIAL | Growing security threats call for better-funded Japanese defense



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The additional defense budget for fiscal year 2021 proposed by the Kishida government is 773.8 billion yen (approximately 6.83 billion US dollars). This is the largest proposed additional defense budget in Japanese history.

Strengthening deterrence and ensuring national security are prerequisites for safeguarding human lives and economic activities. Lawmakers must ensure approval of additional defense spending at the special session of the National Diet that will meet on December 6.

Combined with the initial defense budget for fiscal 2021, the country’s defense spending for the entire fiscal year, which runs from April 2021 to March 2022, will amount to JPY 6,116 trillion. (US $ 53.2 billion), or 1.09% of Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP)).

With the additional funds, Japan will be able to purchase the advanced version of the Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air guided missile batteries to intercept both ballistic and cruise missiles, Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft and aircraft. C-2 transport.

Japan will also be able to procure ammunition such as air-to-air missiles, torpedoes and naval mines. These purchases, which were planned as part of the FY2022 defense budget, will be brought forward, according to the Defense Ministry.

They aim to strengthen the defense of the Nansei Islands (bordering the East China Sea) through the rapid deployment of self-defense troops, missile defense and strengthening the sustainability of defense. According to ministry officials, delivery times for equipment and ammunition will be accelerated from several months to six months if the supplementary budget is approved by the Diet.

Some question the advisability of purchasing defense equipment as part of the supplementary budget, as this usually falls under the initial budget. However, this is a treacherous argument, which ignores the urgency of the need to strengthen the country’s deterrence.

The additional spending plan reflects the urgency to build defense capabilities around Japan due to the extremely grim security environment.

We commend Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for choosing “ensuring safety and security” as one of the three key economic pillars of his administration. This makes it easier for the government to allocate credits for the purchase of equipment.

Of course, basic defense capabilities should in principle be covered by the initial state budget.

In the leaders’ joint statement at the closing of the Japan-US summit in April 2021, the Japanese side “decided to strengthen its own national defense capabilities to further strengthen the Alliance and regional security.” Then, on October 31, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party won the general lower house elections, promising “to dramatically increase the country’s defense capabilities from fiscal year 2022”. However, these commitments cannot be met without the additional defense budget.

The situation in Taiwan has become alarmingly tense. At the same time, the naval and air forces of China and Russia have repeated demonstrations of force against Japan. In addition, North Korea has strengthened its nuclear and missile warfare capabilities.

The Defense Ministry stresses the “need to bridge the gap between the severe security environment and the country’s real defense capabilities”. It positions the additional defense budget for fiscal year 2021, alongside defense spending in the state budget for fiscal year 2022, as “defense strengthening acceleration” packages.

However, when looking at the medium-term defense program against the budget for fiscal year 2022, we will most likely have to face the fact that an increase in the defense budget of 1.09% of GDP is still largely insufficient.

(Read it Sankei Shimbun editorial in Japanese on this link.)

Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun


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