Japan’s Defense Ministry Asks for Record Budget Increase in Response to China’s Heightened Military Aggression

A Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force Type 90 armored tank fires during an annual training session near Mount Fuji in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2014. Reuters
A Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force Type 90 armored tank fires during an annual training session near Mount Fuji in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2014.  – Reuters

TOKYO—Took Sekiguchi reports: Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested a budget of ¥4.899 trillion ($47.1 billion) for the coming fiscal year starting April 1, a 2.4% increase over the amount for the current year. If granted, it would be the third year in a row Japan has expanded its military spending following a decade of cuts.

“We have an immediate neighbor whose military expenditures are at least twice as large as Japan’s and second only to the U.S. defense budget.”

— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The figure, requested by ministry Friday, doesn’t include spending related to U.S. bases in Japan, or for the purchase of a new government airplane for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. If these items are included, the total budget request would be ¥5.054 trillion, the largest ever for the ministry. It would also come as Mr. Abe continues his program to beef up the country’s defense capabilities.

“So call me a right-wing militarist if you want..”

Citing the continuing need for ocean surveillance amid tensions with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, the ministry is requesting 20 patrol planes and five patrol helicopters. It is also looking into acquiring an early-warning radar system and aerial drones. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Plans Special Force for Island Defense

An amphibious assault vehicle lands during the U.S.-Japan military exercise Iron Fist outside Camp Pendleton in California on Feb. 19. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

An amphibious assault vehicle lands during the U.S.-Japan military exercise Iron Fist outside Camp Pendleton in California on Feb. 19. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

TOKYOYuka Hayashi reports:  Japan plans to establish a 3,000-troop unit specializing in amphibious operations “as swiftly as possible,” the defense minister said, publicly outlining details of the new unit for the first time as tensions with China continue over disputed islands.

“Our nation has numerous remote islands and islands of various sizes, and they give us the basis for our exclusive economic zone that ranks sixth in the world…That makes it important to provide defense for islands over the coming years.”

Japan has undertaken an ambitious project to create a force similar to the U.S. Marine Corps, and Japanese Self-Defense Force Troops have been receiving increasingly frequent training from their U.S. counterparts in the past few years.

A plan to strengthen amphibious capabilities was laid out in Japan’s new defense guidelines released in December. In detailing some of the specifics Sunday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the new force is expected to include units specializing in handling types of equipment currently unfamiliar to Japanese troops, such as amphibious vehicles and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

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Japan Walks Fine Line Over Ukraine Issue

putin-japan

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, on Feb. 8. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Toko Sekiguchi  writes:  Standing with its western allies, Japan has criticized Russia over its decision to put troops in Ukraine, but at the same time has taken a softer line than others amid recently improved ties with Moscow.

Japan, whose diplomacy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has focused on ameliorating ties with President Vladimir Putin’s administration, did join in a statement from the Group of Seven industrialized nations that it was suspending preparations for the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June. The G-7 statement said that this would stay in place “until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion.”

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