TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan unveiled a new national security strategy on Friday along with details of its biggest military build-up since World War Two, in a marked shift away from the pacifism that has dominated its political discourse for seven decades.
The changes, which come as tensions grow with neighbouring China, Russia and North Korea, include spending on longer-range missiles and cyber warfare capabilities.
Here is what you need to know:
- The changes are set out in three documents: the National Security Strategy (NSS), the National Defense Strategy, and the Mid-Term Defence Program.
- The documents detail Japan’s determination to develop new “counter strike” capabilities. These capabilities will allow Tokyo to hit ships and strike targets 1,000 km (621.37 miles)away with land or sea-launched missiles.
- Japan’s military is currently armed with missiles that can fly a few hundred kilometres at most. Tokyo believes developing counter strike capabilities will deter potential attacks.
- Japan has been discussing the plan for more than two years.
- Tokyo will spend about $37 billion on boosting counterattack capabilities, such as by extending the range of its ground-launched Type 12 anti-ship missiles by 2027. It also plans to develop other missiles, including hypersonic weapons.
- The documents also say Japan will buy ship-launched, U.S.-made Tomahawk missiles. The Yomiuri newspaper previously reported that Tokyo wants as many as 500 of the cruise missiles, which can fly 1,250km.
- The defence ministry will spend more than 43 trillion yen ($315.76 billion) on its military over five years, doubling its defence budget to about 2% of GDP.
- Some $7 billion of that will go toward cyber warfare operations and another $7 billion toward space capabilities. Some $6 billion will go to developing next-generation fighter jets with Britain and Italy.
- To better coordinate its air, sea and land forces, Japan will establish its first joint command centre. Prime Minister Kishida’s ruling party is also discussing joint U.S.-Japan commands, according to sources.
- The documents said Japan will increase munitions supplies and depots, without specifying details. The Yomiuri previously reported of plans to build about 70 munitions depots within five years and 130 by 2035. Military planners worry that Japan has too little ammunition for a lengthy conflict, a problem that has been highlighted by Russia’s war in Ukraine. They also say stocks of spare parts are low.
- About 70% of the military’s munitions are stored on Hokkaido island in Japan’s north, a legacy of Cold War planning, when Japan’s military adversary was the Soviet Union, according to a report by Nikkei.
- Japan now sees its main threat coming from China along its southwestern island chain, running along the East China Sea, and Tokyo plans to prepare supply bases in the southwest of Japan in anticipation of conflict near Taiwan.
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