In unprecedented move for Tokyo, Japan decided to build-up its military strength. Tensions between them and China are increasing.
The war in Ukraine has not spiked up military readiness only in Europe, but in the rest of the world as well. Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida announced a massive increase of military spending for 2023.
It will be the highest military build-up for Japan since WWII, making its army the third largest in the world after the US and China. The plan includes a $320 billion purchase of missiles capable of striking mainland China, says Reuters citing sources.
It also incorporates the sale of F-35 fighter jets, helicopters, submarines and all Japan needs to become an imposing military power in the region.
The military budget will be slowly raised to 2% of national GDP, breaking the self-imposed 1% limit that has been in place since 1976. When combined with all other public spending, the military will make up 10% of the Japanese budget.
Fumio Kishida plans to finance this spending with a raise in taxes, including those on tobacco and corporate. His Liberal Democratic party, however, opposes any further tax increase, so he might have to find another solution.
Why Japan wants to increase his military
After Germany and Italy, Japan is the third former Axis power to increase its military budget after the war. The move raised eyebrows all over the world, though the geopolitical landscape has obviously completely changed since 1945.
Now, these countries are building up their armies as a way to confront Russia’s expansionist policy and its war in Ukraine. But what does Japan have to do with Ukraine, a country halfway across the globe for them?
The answer lies in Japan’s rivalry with China. Beijing is strengthening its position in the Indo-Pacific region, threatening multiple times an invasion of Taiwan. Indeed, many have compared Ukraine to Taiwan, though there are multiple differences in the two situations.
In any case, Japan does not want to find itself unprepared were a major war to start for Taiwan. Japan is now a fierce American ally (despite being mortal enemies just a few decades ago) and will always support Washington against China.
Japan even has some territorial disputes with China, and the relationship between the two has severely worsened in the last decade.
Therefore, the Japanese military build-up serves as a deterrent against China. That is, of course, if Beijing ever decided to actually invade Taiwan, a move better said than done. China knows that invading Taiwan would result in the entire world being against them, and takes the invasion of Ukraine as a benchmark.
But Tokyo does not want to take any chances. As world tension rises, so do military spendings. When have we already seen something similar happen?