Japan is investing $320 billion to build up its army in the next five years and prepare itself for actual combat. 

In the announcement on Friday, December 16, Japan said it was doubling its military defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP). According to Reuters, this is considered the most significant army build-up for the Pacific nation since World War II and a departure from its postwar commitment to keep spending to 1%.

In fiscal 2027, or the plan’s final year, the annual budget is expected to reach over $65 billion (8.9 trillion yen), more than 1.6 times the initial budget for fiscal 2022 of around $39.5 billion.

Part of the plan is to acquire U.S. long-range missiles capable of neutralizing enemy launch sites if Japan is attacked. The fund would also go to improving cyberwarfare capacity and buying spare parts and other munitions.

There have been criticisms of the country leaving its pacifism commitment. But Japan views its national security as threatening, particularly singling out China.

The strategy paper says, “The strategic challenge posed by China is the biggest Japan has ever faced.” It added that Beijing had not dropped its intention to use force on Taiwan, whose security is viewed as crucial to Japan’s security.

China has been expanding its naval and aviation capabilities to contest Japan’s territorial claims of the Senkaku Islands, a chain of uninhabited islands in the Sea of Japan.

Russia, North Korea, and the Ukraine war are other concerns, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida calling it a “turning point in history” that needed his administration to respond.

His government is concerned that Russia’s precedent-setting actions could inspire China to attack Taiwan, endanger the adjacent Japanese islands, block the flow of advanced semiconductors, and possibly close off sea routes that transport Middle Eastern oil.
Over to the West, North Korea has launched more than 50 missiles over Japan in the past three months. That included a ballistic missile in October for the first time in five years, which caused an emergency evacuation.

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