Japan’s record defense budget signals its alarm at China, North Korea advances

FPI / September 6, 2023


By Richard Fisher

On Aug. 31 Japan’s Ministry of Defense requested a record budget of $59.9 billion for the fiscal budget year that begins on April 1, 2024.

Japan has committed to purchase 400 to 500 U.S. Raytheon Tomahawk 1,600km range land attack cruise missiles.

It is part of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s five-year $295 billion defense spending plan that will exceed Japan’s 1 percent of GDP defense spending cap, on the way to 2 percent of GDP.

And in contrast to their usual penchant to avoid bluntness and controversy, Japanese military leaders are sounding the alarm.

In an Aug. 29 interview with the Nikkei newspaper, Japanese Self Defense Force Chief of the Joint Staff, Gen. Yoshihide Yoshida said:

“We cannot maintain Japan’s security with our current capabilities…That is why the decision was made to increase defense spending to 2 per cent of gross domestic product and to fundamentally strengthen our capabilities under the three key defense policy documents.”

In contrast to Japan’s longstanding “pacifism,” Gen. Yoshida added, “We need to gain counterstrike capabilities so that we can hit a target using missiles and bolster our ability to intercept attacks…We also need more underground shelters so that we can minimize damage from a missile attack and protect our people.”

Japan’s new defense budget would allocate about $5 billion to the purchase, development and production of new long-range missiles.

After having considered this for many years, Japan is now going to purchase 400-500 of the U.S. Raytheon Tomahawk 1,600km range land attack cruise missile (LACM) that it will fire from Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) submarines and AEGIS destroyers.

In addition, Japan is developing a 1,000-km-range version of its Type 12 anti-ship missile for arming ships, aircraft and submarines and is developing a longer 2,000-km- range hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) armed surface-to-surface missile.

Japan is also purchasing 50 of the U.S. Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM), a 900km range air-launched missile that will arm Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) advanced F-15J 4+ generation fighters and F-35 5th generation stealth fighters.

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