Tomahawks will be among Japan’s record defense spenders next year

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s defense spending will rise 20% to a record 6.8 trillion yen ($55 billion) next year as the country prepares to deploy US-made Tomahawks. United States and other long-range cruise missiles that can hit targets in China or North Korea as part of a more offensive security strategy.

The planned 211.3 billion yen ($1.6 billion) purchase of Tomahawks is a centerpiece of Japan’s 2023 budget plan approved by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office on Friday and shows his government’s determination to s quickly arm with greater strike capacity under the new strategy.

In addition, Japan will pay the United States 110 billion yen ($830 million) for the equipment and software needed to launch the Tomahawks, as well as costs for technology transfer and personnel training during the launch. coming year, defense officials said.

The massive budget plan, pending parliamentary approval, is the first installment of a five-year, 43 trillion yen ($325 billion) military spending plan under the new defense boost plan also announced last week. The new spending target follows the NATO standard and will eventually bring Japan’s annual budget to around 10 trillion yen ($73 billion), the third largest in the world after the United States and China.

The budget plan comes a week after Kishida’s government announced Japan’s new national security strategy, affirming its determination to possess a controversial “counterattack capability” to pre-empt enemy attacks and nearly double its spending over the next few months. next five years to protect against growing risks from China, North Korea and Russia and the growing fear of an emergency in Taiwan.

The strategy is a historic shift from the exclusively Japanese policy of self-defense since the end of World War II. China, with its rapid arms buildup, increasingly assertive military activity and rivalry with the United States, presents “an unprecedented and greatest strategic challenge” to the peace and security of Japan and the international community, according to the strategy.

The Tomahawks will be deployed over two years from 2026 to 2027 on advanced destroyers equipped with Aegis radars with vertical launch systems for ship-to-surface attacks, defense officials said.

Japan will also purchase more overseas-developed remote missiles for launching warplanes – a 500-kilometre (310-mile) joint-strike missile from Norway for F-35A fighters, and the joint-range missile air-to-ground from Lockheed Martin with a range of approximately 900 kilometers (560 miles), for the upgraded F-15s.

Japan will spend 94 billion yen ($710 million) next year to work on the modernization and mass production of Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missiles developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for deployment in the coming years.

To boost strike capability and range, Japan is adding eight more 143.5 billion yen ($1.08 billion) F-35Bs capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings on one of two former carriers. -Izumo and Kaga helicopters which are being upgraded so that they can be operated jointly with the US military.

Over the next five years, Japan will spend about 5 trillion yen ($37 billion) on long-range, or long-range, missiles to begin deployment in four years. Annual spending for 2023 on long-range munitions alone will triple from this year to 828 billion yen ($6.26 billion).

Japan will develop other types of arsenals, such as hypersonic weapons and unmanned and multi-role vehicles for possible collaboration with the next-generation FX fighter jet Japan is developing with Britain and the United States. Italy for deployment in 2035. The Ministry of Defense is also developing arsenals designed to have defended isolated southern islands, including a Japanese-controlled East China Sea island disputed with China.

Japan, using the counterattack capability, must fully rely on the United States to detect early signs of attacks and determine targets due to a lack of high levels of intelligence and cybersecurity, according to the experts.

To address this concern, Japan will spend about 100 billion yen ($7.6 million) next year as well to strengthen cybersecurity to protect Japanese defense technology and industry.

Japan will also spend 220 billion yen ($1.7 billion) to build two compact destroyers that will be equipped with Aegis radars to boost the country’s missile intercept capability as a deterrent against advanced missiles.

Another key purchase is unmanned aerial vehicles for assault and reconnaissance. Defense officials said they plan to test a number of foreign-developed drones, including the Turkish-made Bayraktar used in Ukraine, as well as those from Israel, the United States, as well as the Fuji Imvac developed in-house.

Japan asserts that the counterattack capability is indispensable and constitutional if it responds to signs of an imminent enemy attack. But experts say it is extremely difficult to carry out such an attack without risking being accused of having struck first. Opponents say the strike capability goes beyond self-defense under Japan’s post-World War II pacifist constitution, which strictly limits the use of force in self-defense.

This principle, however, was relaxed in 2015 by then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s constitutional reinterpretation allowing Japan to defend its ally, the United States, in what is known as collective self-defense, providing a legal basis for Japan to strengthen its military. and expand the roles it plays.

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