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Japan: Defence budget

The Samurai wakes up!


Japan is beefing up its military to countenance China's ambitions
AMIR HOSSAIN | Issue Dated: September 15, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Economic slowdown | Japan | Defence budget | China |

The ongoing global economic crisis has forced many countries to embrace austerity. Other nations too are trying to fight the crisis by cutting flab and tightening public expenditure. However, despite the measures to rein in spendthriftiness, military expenditure of many nations continue to rise and claim a disproportionate part of budget. China leads the way when it comes to spending billions of dollars on bulking up its military even as a sizable section of its populace continues to live from hand to mouth. For instance, China has decided to increase its defence budget by 10.7 per cent for the next year. In contrast, the US’s military spending for the coming year will come down due to withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan although its defence budget will remain more or less the same. The exception to the rule is another major global power, Japan, whose defence budget has shown a consistent decline from 2002 to 2012. However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to increase the military budget by 3 per cent for 2014. So the question that strikes is what influenced Japan to spike its defence budget at a time when it is still recovering from the shock effect of the twin earthquake and tsunami disasters in 2011?

As per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Year Book 2013, the world has spent around $1.7 trillion (almost the worth of India's GDP) on military and defense in 2012. The US alone accounted for 39% of that expenditure. Japan ranked 5th spending 3.4% of the global spending on defence. However, China has overtaken Japan in military spending by a wide margin. While Japan has a defence budget outlay of $49 billion for 2014, China has already spent around $166 billion in 2012 alone, which is more than three times of Japan's. But the ongoing tensions with neighbours like China have forced Japan to think differently. Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu, says that “The important thing is that the Japanese have sent a signal that they are getting serious about defence, and the contending powers seem cognizant of that. They understand they have to do things differently.”

Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera says that Japan needs to boost military expenditure to “counter the potential threat from China’s and North Korea’s long-range missiles.” China has not only violated the Line of Actual Control several times but also its patrol craft have repeatedly trespassed Japanese-administered waters around the southern islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. So Japan wants to reinforce its defense to counter regional problems. For instance, Japan would like to escalate surveillance around the southern islands by adding drones to its forces. Along the same lines, it may acquire the F-35 fighter jets for its air force as they are a superior aircraft compared to the ones owned by China or Russia. Still, the question remains whether Japan will be able to stand its own against the growing might of China's military and its expansionist policies?

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017