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Regional pressures drove the Japanese army to grow

Regional pressures drove the Japanese army to grow

Prime Minister Suga will continue to work to develop Japan’s military amid growing pressure from China, North Korea and Russia.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to continue with a massive buildup of China’s military forces, increased pressure from North Korea’s growing missile arsenal, and extensive improvements in Japan’s defense capabilities as Russia continues its operations in East Asia.

But Suga’s efforts, including increasing the military’s budget, may have to compete with other local priorities as they fight to get Japan out of the COVID-19 outbreak.

How much does Japan spend on its army?

The budget of the Ministry of Defense, which started in April for the 2021 fiscal year, is expected to increase for the ninth year in a row and reach around $ 51 billion.

Japan ranked eighth in global military spending in 2019, but spends a small part of its wealth (1 percent) on its military compared to other countries.

Japan's Defense Spending Remained Low

Defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP)

Regional pressures drove the Japanese army to grow

How did Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strengthen Japan’s defense?

Most of the loan to improve the Japanese defense belongs to former Prime Minister Abe. With almost eight years in office and an upper hand in the lower house of the National Diet, Abe implemented an unprecedented series of security reforms.

In 2013, Japan announced a new national security strategy, and in 2018 it adopted a ten-year defense plan and a medium-term acquisition plan to achieve this. Perhaps Abe’s most important move, albeit controversial, was to reinterpret Article 9 of the constitution, allowing the military Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to cooperate with foreign armies to protect Japan. The new safety laws passed from the Diet in 2015 faced significant protests from opposition lawmakers and the public.

After years of stagnation in military spending, the SDF was late to make improvements to its air and naval defense systems. It has also prompted calls for new advances of Japan’s neighbors, investment in space and cyber-capabilities.

Additionally, Japan is working to increase the competitiveness of its technology industry. The establishment of the Procurement, Technology and Logistics Agency within the Ministry of Defense created incentives for Japanese companies and university-based researchers to increase competitiveness in new military technologies. Japanese defense companies are now competing abroad for military sales.

What role has the US played in Japan’s military reforms?

The Abe cabinet worked closely with the two US administrations to withstand increasing regional pressures. During the Barack Obama administration, the countries established a new alliance coordination mechanism after China’s deployment of maritime law enforcement vessels around the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands raised fears of military conflict. Obama was the first US president to announce that Article 5 of the bilateral security agreement covers these remote islands, and made clear that any attempt to use force would trigger a unified US-Japan response. Presidents Donald J. Trump and Joe Biden made similar statements showing that the United States sees the East China Sea dispute as a potential flashpoint.

In addition, the United States and Japan agreed to improve ballistic missile defense, largely with North Korea demonstrating its 2017 missile capabilities. The modernization of Japan’s air defense includes investments in 104 F-35 fighter aircraft as well as improvements in early detection systems. BASE. Japanese forces also cooperate in naval stabilization operations in the region, as well as in space and cyber missions.

Will Suga continue these reforms?

So, Suga will build on these efforts, but will face various challenges. The first is about domestic politics; Suga took office in September, facing the COVID-19 outbreak and its economic consequences. In the fall of 2021, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will face a lower house election and, as in many democracies around the world, Japanese voters will assess their government’s outbreak response as they go to the polls.

Second, recovering from the economic effects of the pandemic could affect the budget the Department of Defense needs to implement long-term plans.

Third, the government is working on a new National Security Strategy as well as reviewing its approach to ballistic missile defense. In June 2020, then Defense Minister Taro Kono informed the US that he would not buy the US-made Aegis Ashore missile defense system, citing Japan’s political and technical problems. However, Japan is also considering whether it needs offensive attack capabilities to counter North Korean threats.