For the third year in a row, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s annual budget raised Japanese defense spending. Bloomberg reports:
Spending on defense will account for about 5 percent of the national budget, which is set to be approved by the cabinet tomorrow. […]In August, Japan’s defense ministry requested a record budget that included funds for 20 P-1 fixed-wing patrol aircraft, six F-35 fighter aircraft and an unspecified number of unmanned aircraft. Japan will also allocate funds for establishing a military observation unit on Yonaguni island, close to the disputed islets.Abe has reversed an 11-year decline in the defense budget, and his cabinet in July last year reinterpreted the pacifist constitution, which hasn’t been changed in almost 70 years, to allow Japanese troops to defend other countries.
It’s unclear whether the added $1.2 billion will push defense spending past one percent of GDP, a taboo in pacifist post-war Japan. It will certainly be close.Japan’s rising defense spending is in part a response to tensions with China over disputed territory in the East China Sea. The defense budget’s continued upward trajectory shows that after a winning year in 2014, newly reelected Prime Minister Abe is wasting no time, pushing ahead confidently with his preferred policies aimed at creating a strong, militaristic, nationalist Japan.