Japan PM Fumio Kishida Vows to Bolster Defense Amid China, North Korea Threats

Japan PM Fumio Kishida Vows to Bolster Defense Amid China, North Korea Threats
Fumio Kishida, Japan's new prime minister, speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Oct. 4, 2021. (Toru Hanai/Pool/Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has vowed to bolster Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to cope with security threats posed by China and North Korea, renewing his pledge to consider “all options,” including acquiring enemy base strike capability.

Japan’s security situation has been rapidly changing, Kishida said at his first troop review, describing the reality as more severe than ever, citing North Korea’s missile threat and China’s increasingly assertive maritime activity in the region.

Kishida, who took office in October, conducted his first Self-Defense Force troop review on Nov. 27 at Camp Asaka army base, located north of Tokyo, with 800 troops gathered for the inspection.

“I will consider all options, including possessing so-called enemy base strike capability, to pursue strengthening of defense power that is necessary,” he said in an address to hundreds of Ground Self-Defense Force members.

The possibility of having so-called enemy base strike capability has been a contentious issue, with opponents claiming that it violates Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution.

Kishida said he’s open to doubling Japan’s military spending and capability, but noted that his government would lead “calm and realistic” discussions to determine the necessary actions to protect people’s lives and gain their understanding.

Japan’s cabinet approved a 770 billion yen ($6.8 billion) request on Nov. 26 for an extra defense budget, its largest-ever allocation to defense spending, as it seeks to expedite missile defense projects in response to military threats posed by China, Russia, and North Korea.

The request, still pending parliamentary approval, is a record for an extra defense budget and will bring Japan’s military spending for the current year to a new high of more than 6.1 trillion yen ($53.2 billion), 15 percent higher than the 5.31 trillion yen it spent a year earlier.

The proposed supplemental budget for 2021 will be just over 1 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product, keeping its customary cap.

The budget request includes nearly 100 billion yen ($870 million) to enhance the country’s integrated air and missile defense, particularly PAC-3 mobile surface-to-air missile interceptors and related equipment, as well as cruise missiles.

More than 800 billion yen ($7 billion) will go toward speeding up the purchase of reconnaissance planes and equipment, including three P-1s, equipment for P-3Cs, and vertical launch systems to be placed on two destroyers in order to step up surveillance around Japan’s territorial waters and airspace.

The defense budget also aims to ease the burden on Japanese defense equipment and parts suppliers that are struggling to maintain the country’s dwindling industry, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.