Tokyo must boost its military at a “radically different pace” than in the past to counter Beijing’s growing capacity, Japan’s defense minister said in an interview published yesterday.
Japanese Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi said that the gap between the Japanese military and the Chinese military was “growing by the year,” in an interview with the Nikkei daily.
“We must increase our defense capabilities at a radically different pace than in the past,” he said, citing China’s military spending as well as new areas of warfare such as space, cyber and electromagnetic warfare.
Japan’s defense spending has tended to hover at about one percent of GDP, but Kishi said that spending would be guided by needs rather than caps.
“The security environment surrounding Japan is changing rapidly with heightened uncertainty,” the Nikkei quoted him as saying. “We will properly allocate the funding we need to protect our nation.”
Japan’s post-war constitution limits the scope of its military to defensive power, and efforts to boost capacity have sometimes been controversial domestically.
Kishi’s comments come with Japan increasingly concerned about the regional security environment and particularly China’s growing assertiveness.
The military balance between Japan and China has “leaned heavily toward China in recent years, and the gap has been growing by the year,” he told the paper.
Kishi also said that Japan considers issues related to Taiwan “as our own problem,” as China increases pressure on Taipei.
Japan has been more vocal in the past few months about Chinese moves in regional waters, and particularly the presence of coastguard ships around disputed islands in the East China Sea.
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