Japan sends message to China with military spending spree

Japan will splurge on military hardware, including stealth fighters and amphibious vehicles, in a significant boost of defence spending to counter an increasingly aggressive China.

Hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved a new national security strategy to beef up military spending by 2.6%, reversing a decade of cuts. Japan will spend 24.7 trillion ($240 billion) over five years as part of shoring up military capabilities in the face of what Abe called an “increasingly severe” security environment.

Under the defence plan, Japan will purchase stealth fighters, anti-missile destroyers, surveillance drones and submarines. The military will also create an amphibious force capable of retaking far-flung islands to boost defence of territories at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute with China.

“China is attempting to change the status quo by force in the skies and seas of the East China Sea and South China Sea and other areas, based on its own assertiveness, which are incompatible with the established international order,” Japan said in its first national security strategy.

“China’s stance toward other countries and military moves, coupled with a lack of transparency regarding its military and national security policies, represent a concern to Japan and the wider international community and require close watch.”

The new defence guidelines approved on Tuesday Tokyo will introduce a “dynamic joint defence force” that will allow air, land and sea forces to work more effectively.

The move comes as Abe seeks to break from the shackles of post-war pacifism and pave the way for a greater military role for Japan.

He said the defence strategy will allow Japan to better shoulder its responsibilities through what he calls “proactive pacifism.”

“We hope to make further contributions to the peace and stability of the international community through proactive pacifism,” Abe said. “This shows with transparency our country’s diplomatic and defence policies.

Abe added that the strategy is a measured and logical response to “a real and increasing threat,” the BBC reports.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: GetHiroshima/Flickr

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