Japan's defense ministry requests record over 40 bln USD budget, faces headwinds

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 31, 2022
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TOKYO, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Defense Ministry requested on Wednesday a record 5.59 trillion yen (40.35 billion U.S. dollars) in spending for the next fiscal year, as the country looks to bolster its so-called defense capabilities while facing political, economic and social headwinds.

The ministry's latest request tops the previous record of 5.4 trillion yen (about 38.92 billion U.S. dollars) in defense spending mapped out in fiscal 2022 and comes after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country's defense spending over the next five years would "substantially increase."

The defense ministry has not disclosed specific costs comprising its budget request, although as many as 100 new projects have been earmarked for funding upgrades to military hardware as well as the procurement of new missile defense systems, drones, and for Japan's proposed build-up of systems for space and cyberspace use, among others, informed sources here said.

The budget request outlines seven "pillars" to be enhanced, but within this scope, the government's consideration of upgrading its missile capabilities for use for preemptive strikes will meet a staunch public and international backlash, as such a move would run contrary to Japan's postwar pacifist Constitution.

Such a move, defense analysts have said, as well as marking a fundamental shift in Japan's defense policy and contravening the country's own Supreme Law, would be a precarious move for Japan in terms of the region's military environment.

The ministry's initial request, the ambiguous details of which will be made clear following the government's revision of its national security strategy and defense guideline in December, marks a 3.5 percent jump in spending over the current fiscal year.

In recent years, Japan has capped its defense spending at 1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. The latest request just tops the 1 percent threshold.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, however, is pushing for the spending to double to 2 percent in the coming years, but whether the government can actually finance its proposed spending remains questionable, defense analysts here have said.

A hike in future defense spending would likely entail Japan cutting its already ballooning social welfare spending that caters to the country's rapidly aging society.

Currently, social security and national debt servicing are the government's biggest outlays, with Japan, the world's third largest economy, holding public debt amounting to more than twice the size of its economy, the highest in the industrialized world.

Leading economists here have said that along with slashing social welfare funding, Japan would likely have to also further raise its consumption tax to finance its future defense spending, a proposition certain to be hugely unpopular and likely rebuffed by the Japanese public. Enditem

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