As regional tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fuel war worries, Japan on Friday unveiled its largest military build-up since World War Two with a $320 billion plan that will buy missiles capable of striking China and prepare it for sustained battle.
Based on existing expenditures, the expansive, five-year plan will elevate Japan to the position of third-largest military spender in the world, behind the United States and China.
The ramp-up, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is “his response to the myriad security problems that we confront” and that Japan and its people are experiencing a “turning point in history.”
His government is concerned that Russia’s precedent-setting actions could inspire China to attack Taiwan, endanger the adjacent Japanese islands, block the flow of advanced semiconductors, and possibly close off sea routes that transport Middle Eastern oil.
The government also announced plans to increase transportation capacity, store spare parts and other armaments, and enhance cyberwarfare capabilities. Japan handed up the ability to wage war and the means to do so in its post-war constitution, which was written by Americans.
At the turn of the century, China’s military budget surpassed Japan’s and is now more than four times bigger. The most pressing issues for Japan to address are a paucity of munitions and a dearth of spare parts that render planes and other military equipment inoperable.
With Kishida’s plan, defence spending will more than quadruple to 2% of GDP over five years, exceeding a self-imposed budget cap of 1% that has been in place since 1976.
Based on existing budgets, it will make Japan the world’s third-largest military spender behind the United States and China and expand the defence ministry’s budget to around a tenth of total public spending.
This spending spree would provide Japanese military equipment producers like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) jobs. MHI is anticipated to oversee the construction of three of the longer-range missiles that will be a part of Japan’s new missile force.
In a collaborative collaboration between Japan, Britain, and Italy revealed last week, MHI will also construct Japan’s upcoming jet fighter alongside BAE Systems PLC and Leonardo SPA.
That was funded by $5.6 billion from Tokyo’s five-year defence plan.
International businesses will also profit. Japan claims it wants the U.S. Raytheon Technologies Tomahawk cruise missiles to be a part of its new deterrent force.
Over the following five years, Japan will also purchase Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, helicopters, submarines, battleships, heavy-lift transport jets, attack and reconnaissance drones, interceptor missiles for ballistic missile defence, and satellite communications equipment.
Kishida’s ruling coalition earlier on Friday announced it will increase tobacco, corporation, and income taxes for disaster-reconstruction in order to pay for such equipment. The Japanese leader has not yet specified when he will put the higher rates into effect because there is still substantial opposition to tax increases within his ruling Liberal Democratic party.