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Japan: Countering China and North Korea

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Japan plans to enhance defence spending to an amount equivalent to 2% of GDP within five years as compared to present 1%

Reports are Japan is all set to earmark ¥43 trillion (USD 295 billion to USD 318 billion) for its defence spending over five years starting in the next fiscal year beginning in April. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has told his key ministers to work on a plan to lift the country's defence spending to an amount equivalent to 2 per cent of gross domestic product within five years.

Observers say that the proposed enhancement has been long overdue. Currently, Japan spends just one per cent of its GDP over defence. This has hardly been adequate to its defence imperatives.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Japan today sees in communist North Korea's ambitious nuclear weaponisation programme and China's military aggression in the region the main threats to itself. North Korea has recently increased missile firings, including one that flew over Japan. At an international fleet review in November this year, Prime Minister Kishida said, "The security environment in the East and South China seas, especially around Japan, is increasingly becoming more severe."

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The official policy of Japan remains to avoid disputes and seeks dialogue with all nations, including its neighbours. But it is being aware of the need to remain prepared to meet any provocations and threats to peace and stability in the region. Japan has long remained shackled under the US-imposed peace Constitution. Today it is for better defence capabilities to protect itself.

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Japan needs sufficient fund to go in for frontline platforms, such as destroyers, fighter jets, and tanks. It needs to speed up the procurement and deployment of F35 fighter jets and increase the number of its Maritime Self Defece Force destroyers. Recently, Japan awarded US aircraft manufacturer Boeing a contract for two further KC-46A tankers. It plans to bring its fleet strength to six. Two aircraft have so far been delivered; the first was in October 2021 and another in February 2022.

Japan needs to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines. Conventionally powered submarines are no more sufficient. MSDF missions may need to be expanded to the South China Sea and beyond. Besides, Japan needs fund for its defence-related research and development.

Pertinently, Japan has plans to expand its Okinawa-based ground force unit to defend its remote south-western islands and prepare for a contingency involving Taiwan. It seeks to increase the number of its infantry regiments under the Ground Self-Defense Force's 15th brigade to two.

(Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, New York)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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