With China In Mind Japan Revamps Security Policy And Increases Defense Budget

Japan’s decision to significantly alter its National Security Strategy and almost double defense spending seems to have taken much of the world by surprise. Personally, I find this reaction to be more of a shock. For most people who monitor the geopolitical and military balance in the Western Pacific its clear Japan has been on this path for years, stretching back to the early years of Shinzo Abe’s tenure. Tokyo has been strengthening the Self Defense Forces in uneven increments over the years in response to China’s growing military power and Beijing’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy demeanor. Now that the Japanese government has publicly stated its intentions to enhance the buildup and move towards a more offensive footing, the world is finally opening its eyes to the powder keg that could be brewing in the Western Pacific region.

At a press conference today, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was quick to point out that the revised policy is a major shift, it is not in opposition to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. “Japan’s path as a peaceful nation will remain unchanged,” Kishida emphasized. Japan is certainly contending with an unstable and complex security environment at the present time. And looming in the distance is the prospect of a security dilemma holding the ability to undermine or severely damage Japan’s national security as well as its geopolitical prestige and power. The policy revisions are partly designed to prevent a security dilemma from appearing.

In the policy statements released by the Japanese government, defense spending priorities for the next decade and emphasize the increasing danger “posed by those seeking to unilaterally change the status quo by force.” This is a direct referral to China and to a lesser degree North Korea. And despite Japan being viewed as a more peaceful, borderline pacifist nation by many around the world, public opinion has been in favor of increased defense spending and security strategy for some time.


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