Japan Panel: Significant Defense Strengthening, Inevitable Cost Increase

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TOKYO: A Japanese government-mandated panel said in a report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that a drastic defense build-up, including the use of pre-emptive strikes, was “indispensable” to counter growing threats in the region.

He called for public understanding to bear the financial burden of defending the country. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Kishida wants to double Japan’s current defense budget to around $10 trillion ($70 billion) over the next five years.

The report’s recommendations, compiled by 10 independent experts and submitted to Kishida on Tuesday, say Japan needs to strengthen its economy to pay for military spending, while strengthening the arms industry and research and development of cutting-edge technologies. dual purpose.

Japan should improve commercial infrastructure for military use in emergencies and strengthen cybersecurity, he added.

Earlier this year, Kishida pledged to significantly boost Japan’s military capabilities and spending in the face of increasingly assertive activities from China, as well as threats from North Korea and Russia. The report will be considered in the upcoming review of the National Security Strategy and Key Defense Guidelines, to be released later this year ahead of Budget 2023.

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“Strengthening deterrence is the top priority of the government and the ruling party,” Kishida said when meeting with ruling bloc leaders after receiving the panel’s recommendations.

The LDP cited a North Atlantic Treaty Organization standard of 2% contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) as a target, seeking to nearly double Japan’s current defense budget of more than 5 trillion yen. ($35 billion), or about 1% of GDP.

“Possessing and strengthening counterattack capability is essential for Japan to maintain and advance deterrence,” the report said, citing a major shift in the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, the strengthening rapid nuclear and missile capabilities in neighboring countries and the deployment of hypersonic missiles. and those launched on an “irregular trajectory” which make interception more difficult.

The panel said Japan needed a drastic military build-up over the next five years.

The measures would be costly and increasing both defense capability and budget in a country with a rapidly aging and shrinking population might not be easy.

The panel cited Japan’s low birth rate and declining population as potential factors in the long-term decline of national strength, and said a question about the sustainability of economic and financial strength was a “vulnerability potential”.

“Defending a country is everyone’s business in Japan,” said Kenichiro Sasae, a former ambassador to the United States who led the panel. “There is a need to make people understand the need to bear the (financial) burden.”

The panel also called for the deployment of a sufficient number of missiles, including so-called ranged or long-range missiles to strike enemy targets from outside their range. Developing its own remote missiles would take time, and the report suggested more foreign missile purchases in the near term.

The LDP has renamed what is called pre-emptive strike to “counter-strike capability”, ostensibly to emphasize that it is self-defense. The government says its use is constitutional in response to signs of an impending enemy attack.

But the capability that would allow Japan to strike and disable enemy missiles before they are launched is controversial. Opponents say the definition of enemy intent to attack is unclear and preemptive strikes could be considered first strikes.

Even the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, a Buddhist-backed party known for its pacifist stance, expressed caution over the concept.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, who heads the Komeito, also said that increasing Japan’s deterrence capability under the Japan-US security alliance means “a fundamental shift in the concept of deterrence, so we must carefully think about the limits.

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