Japan plans record additional defense spending as Chinese threat looms

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, October 14, 2021. Eugene Hoshiko / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

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TOKYO, Nov. 19 (Reuters) – Japan is forecasting record defense spending in a supplementary budget due to be announced on Friday with an economic stimulus package, media reported, as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a “new level” of defense cooperation with the Australian ally.

The developments come as Japan and its Western allies, including the United States, Britain and Australia, respond to increased Chinese militarization in the Asia-Pacific.

Japan plans to allocate at least 770 billion yen ($ 6.74 billion) for defense in a supplementary budget that will be part of the economic stimulus package that will be finalized on Friday, Kyodo News reported. Read more

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This amount – most for defense in a supplementary budget – would eclipse the 430 billion yen planned in a supplementary budget for fiscal year 2019, and would include spending for missiles and patrol planes, and for capacity building of defense near the southwestern islands, Kyodo said.

Japan has long been committed to keeping its military budgets below 1% of gross domestic product (GDP), a figure that allayed concerns at home and abroad about any revival of militarism that has brought it down. led to WWII.

But with growing concern over the Chinese military in the disputed East China Sea, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) has included a target to spend 2% of GDP or more on the military in its platform. policy ahead of the October 31 elections.

Japan’s Defense Ministry wants money for an indigenous stealth fighter and missiles that can travel over 1,000 km (621 miles), among other things, while the country is also developing cyber, space and electromagnetic warfare capabilities.

Japan is also aiming to strengthen ties with allies and friendly countries like Australia, a point Abe – who resigned last year but remains influential in the PLD – argued at a seminar on Friday. online organized by an Australian think tank. Read more

“In view of the regional security environment which has become increasingly severe, there is a need to elevate bilateral cooperation between Japan and Australia on security and defense,” he said. in a speech at the event, also delivered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Abe said Japan should cooperate with UKUS security partners – the United States, Britain and Australia – on artificial intelligence, cyber capabilities and quantum technologies. The AUKUS Pact is widely seen as a response to Chinese militarization in the region.

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Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Chang-Ran Kim and Elaine Lies in Tokyo Editing by Matthew Lewis, David Gregorio and Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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