Saturday, December 10, 2022

Japan calls for increasing defense spending in policy paper, threatens Taiwan

Japan wants to drastically increase defense spending “within the next five years”, it said in an annual economic policy document on Tuesday that noted for the first time a deadline for spending and concerns about threats facing Taiwan. has gone.

Neither the five-year period or the reference to the democratic, independent island that China considers part of its territory in a draft document last week.

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Taiwan rejected China’s claims of sovereignty and said only the island’s people could decide its future.

Japan and the United States “emphasize the importance and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the peaceful resolution of any problems on both sides,” the document said in a footnote that referenced a meeting between US President Joe Biden and the Japanese premier. was. Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo last month.

The policy roadmap, Kishida’s first since taking office in October, serves as a blueprint for the next fiscal year’s budget, though any major increases in military outlays will exacerbate Japan’s already strained public finances.

The reference to Taiwan came after Biden said Washington was ready to use force to defend Taiwan against any Chinese attack.

In contrast, last year’s roadmap only said that Japan would significantly increase defense spending as needed, and did not mention Taiwan.

Following an uptick in Chinese military activity in East Asia, there has been increased alarm in Tokyo about Taiwan. Along with Japan’s neighboring island of Okinawa, Taiwan joins Beijing’s military.

Breaking that line would directly threaten the sea routes that supply most of its oil to Japan’s economy.

China says its recent exercises near Taiwan, including regular incursions by its aircraft into the island’s air defenses, are aimed at preventing “collusion” between the United States and Taiwan and protecting China’s sovereignty.

Tuesday’s document, which covered issues ranging from energy security to Kishida’s ‘new capitalism’ economic policy, did not say how much the commitment to “significantly strengthen” defense spending would be.

But it referred to two percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) commitments made by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Japan now spends just over one percent of GDP on its self-defense forces.

Even if Kishida’s government gets money to double defense spending, it will leave Japan far behind China, which already spends nearly five times as much on its military.

The government kept the door open for an increase in bond issuance, saying it would not limit policy options “critical” in its budget formulation for the next fiscal year.

Kishida, who faces a national election in July, is under pressure to pass a second supplementary budget, after one of 2.7 trillion yen ($20.34 billion) in May, to help blunt the impact of the recent rise in commodity prices .

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