mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Land of the Rising Gun
Japan Gets Defensive

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.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Fat_Man

    They could save a lot of money by not buying F35s. They don’t work amd the US should shut down the program.

    • Andrew Allison

      Just think how many F-22s (a fighter which can reliably get into the air and actually fire its guns), they could buy for the same price (or how much they could save).

  • dfooter

    Isn’t “militaristic” a little strong?

    • Andrew Allison

      More than a little! Abe is responding to a very real threat, not pursuing militarism (which, as the careless reference to the percent of the budget commanded by defense confirms) is anathema to the Japanese.

  • JR

    What matters is what you can take and defend with reasonable degree of success. Japanese military will be a very strong unit indeed, given Japan’s historic military culture.

  • S.C. Schwarz

    Wow, approaching 1% of GDP. I’m sure China will be impressed.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    There is a Truism that “You fight a war with the Army you have, and NOT the Army you wish you had.”, so this just seems like prudent planning on Japan’s part and I really wish they would spend 3%-4% of GDP on their defense.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service