Japan will continue to increase defense spending over the next five years

SINGAPORE — Japan will continue to increase its defense budget over the next five years amid fears that Russia will use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, the island nation’s prime minister has said.

Fumio Kishida delivered the keynote address at the opening night of the Shangri-la Dialogue on June 10. The forum, hosted in Singapore by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, focuses on security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.

Kishida reiterated that the additional defense spending could cover the acquisition of counterattack capabilities to attack littoral and land targets in the event of an attack on Japan. Previous interpretations of Japan’s pacifist constitution prohibited the government from acquiring such capabilities.

He also pledged to continue efforts to advance Japanese security interests and strengthen the U.S.-Japan security alliance, calling it a regional security linchpin that could serve as a springboard to promote multi-level security cooperation. with like-minded countries.

He also referred to efforts to help other nations in the region, noting that Japan will continue to provide capacity-building assistance to countries in the region, especially in the maritime field. These include the provision of maritime patrol vessels, law enforcement capabilities, unmanned aircraft and the training of 800 people over the next three years in at least 20 different countries.

He estimated that the value of this support, which will be provided through the so-called Quad Group – made up of Japan, Australia, India and the United States – will amount to $3 billion. Japan has previously provided support to the Philippines in the form of aircraft and spare parts.

Further support to come includes rule of law and governance training for 1,500 people across the region, the prime minister said.

Kishida also warned against viewing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “someone else’s problem”, describing the attack as having shaken the very foundations of the international order.

He said the region must be prepared for the same to happen in its neighborhood, where one entity can trample the peace and security of others despite international law.

Kishida’s opposition and concern over the deployment and potential use of nuclear weapons also figured prominently in his speech. During World War II, the United States bombed Japan twice with nuclear weapons, once in Hiroshima and another in Nagasaki.

Kishida called on nations to work towards a world without nuclear weapons, and he criticized Russia and North Korea for continuing to threaten nuclear attacks. In late February, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Kremlin put its nuclear triad on high alert.

He also called on nuclear-weapon states to declare their stockpiles of weapons and encouraged the United States and China to engage in bilateral dialogue on nuclear disarmament and arms control.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News. He wrote his first magazine article on defense in 1998 before going on to study aerospace engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. After a stint in engineering, he became a freelance defense journalist in 2013 and has written for several media outlets.

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