Worried about Chinese activities and the development of missiles by North Korea, and under pressure from its American ally, Japan grants a record envelope to its defense spending and does not rule out doubling it to 2% of its GDP. The government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida approved, Friday, November 26, an additional budget for the 2021 fiscal year ended at the end of March 2022, which includes 770 billion yen (5.9 billion euros) for the acquisition of missiles , maritime patrol planes or even mines. Tokyo wants to accelerate the purchases initially planned for 2022.

Added to the initial budget for fiscal year 2021, this envelope brings Japanese military spending to nearly 47.2 billion euros. This amount is similar to that of France, but much lower than that of China, whose military budget in 2020 was close to 224.7 billion euros, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ( Sipri).

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The increase decided by Tokyo reflects, according to Itsunori Onodera, head of defense issues for the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, in power) and former defense minister, “The severity of the security environment around Japan and the feeling of crisis within the PLD and the Ministry of Defense”.

Chinese military activities

The concern is the intensification of Chinese military activities. In October, ten Chinese and Russian ships crossed the Straits of Tsugaru, between the main island of Honshu and that of Hokkaido (North), and Osumi, in the southwest of the archipelago. The Chinese buildings then carried out exercises with helicopters. On November 19, two Chinese H-6 bombers and two Russian TU-95 bombers also entered Japan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the western part of the archipelago.

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Added to this are Chinese activities near the Senkaku islets, administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan, which call them Diaoyu. During 2020, Japanese fighters took off 723 times to counter approaches from Chinese (63%) and Russian (36%) aircraft. At the same time, North Korea is continuing its tests of missiles, some of which fall close to Japanese territorial waters.

In addition, Joe Biden is pushing, like his predecessor Donald Trump, his Japanese ally, to strengthen his means of defense. In April, the US President and then Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (2020-2021) agreed that Japan “Increase its national defense capabilities in order to further strengthen the bilateral alliance and regional security”. “We need to increase our capacities at a radically different pace from that of the past”, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi added in May, given China’s increased capabilities, but also new areas of action such as space, computer networks and electronic warfare.

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