by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times
September 6, 2021
TOKYO – With the growing threat of China and Russia, the Japanese government is seeking an t increase in military spending by nearly a sixth over a decade.
Since last year, Japan has identified China as its primary national security threat, citing a “sense of crisis” over Beijing’s threat to Taiwan, which lies close to Japanese islands on the East China Sea’s rim.
The ministry’s budget proposal, released on Tuesday, calls for a 2.6 percent increase in spending, to a record 5.48 trillion yen ($49.93 billion) for the fiscal year beginning April 1. Officials from the Finance Ministry will review and possibly amend the request before submitting it to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet for approval.
However, Japan’s defense spending increases are insufficient to keep up with China’s growing military budget, which increased 6.8 percent this year and is now roughly four times larger than Japan’s and second only to the United States in size.
Instead, Tokyo’s strategy is to build a force armed with cutting-edge technology to deter Beijing from taking military action in the region to settle territorial or other disputes. A total of 130 billion yen has been requested for 12 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, four of which will be short take-off and vertical landing B variants operating from converted helicopter carriers.
The defense ministry has requested 105 billion yen for the development of its first new domestic jet fighter in three decades next year. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is leading the project, which is expected to be completed in the 2030s at a cost of around $40 billion.