ASSESSMENTS

In the Face of Growing Threats, Japan Ramps Up Defense Spending

MIN READJun 13, 2022 | 20:48 GMT

Members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) disembark from an aircraft during a military exercise at the East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba, Japan on May 28, 2022.

Members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) disembark from an aircraft during a military exercise at the East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba, Japan on May 28, 2022.

(TOMOHIRO OHSUMI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A bigger defense budget will enable Japan to better manage Chinese and North Korean threats, thus alleviating the United States’ security burden in the region. But Tokyo’s efforts to build a more formidable military could also prevent a rapprochement with South Korea. On June 10, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to increase defense spending from 1% of the country's GDP to 2% over the next five years. The increase is outlined in the 2023 economic and fiscal policy guidelines that Kishida’s cabinet adopted on June 7, and comes after a May 27 meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in which Kishida promised to "substantially increase" Japan's defense budget. In the face of growing threats from nearby China and North Korea, Kishida appears poised to maintain his predecessor’s efforts to boost Japan’s offensive capabilities and operate beyond the pacifist constraints of Japan’s post-war constitution. This will see leaders in Tokyo...

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