FILE - A member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) conducts a military drill with an anti-ship missiles unit, at JGSDF Miyako camp on Miyako Island, Okinawa prefecture, Japan, Apr. 21, 2022.
Under a new National Security Strategy (NSS) and other documents, Japan will nearly double its defense spending and deploy missiles in a new way.
Since the end of World War II, Japan’s military, called the Japan Self-Defense Forces, has held defensive, not offensive weapons.
In recent years, partly because of the growing influence of China in Southeast Asia, Japan has been reconsidering its position.
Under a new defense spending plan, Japan aims to purchase missiles that can hit military targets in other countries.
The spending means the world’s third-largest economy will no longer spend the ninth-most on weapons and defense.
The new plan will increase Japan’s spending from one percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to two percent over the next five years. If this happens, Japan will move to third in the world in defense spending.
Japan will center its early spending on what it calls “counterstrike capability,” or the ability to hit targets in other countries.
The move has been the subject of debate within in Japan, as the country’s past guidelines restricted offensive weapons. Japan’s constitution, written after World War II with American influence, bars it from making war.
The new defense ideas in the NSS note that having missiles that can hit foreign targets acts as a form of defense. But the new documents say striking first “remains impermissible.”
Japan’s military says it will purchase hundreds of U.S.-made Tomahawk missiles, which can travel up to 2,500 kilometers.
The new defense plan was developed because Japan believes that the security situation in the region is at its “most severe and complex” since the end of World War II.
Japan is worried about recent military exercises by China and North Korea. In addition, Japan said it is concerned about Russia’s growing ties with China.
Military experts say Japan’s leaders are concerned that Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine may set an example for other nations to follow.
Public opinion studies in Japan have shown support for the nation’s new military plan.
Jake Sullivan is the National Security Advisor to the U.S. president. He called Japan’s new plan “bold.”
But leaders in China, North Korea and Russia denounced the plan. China said Japan was overreacting to the Chinese threat as a way to provide a reason for the military purchases. Russia criticized the plan as unrestricted “militarization.”
James Brown is a professor at Temple University in Tokyo. He is a political science expert. Brown called the criticism “without foundation,” meaning that it is not grounded in facts.
He noted that Russia, North Korea and China all have many long-range missiles.
Words in This Story
gross domestic product (GDP) –n. all the good and services produced in a country in a year which is considered a good measure of the size of a nation’s economy
counterstrike –n. a strike that is in reaction to a first strike
bold –adj. not afraid of danger or difficulty
long-range –adj. able to travel long distances