Japan seeks assertive role in region through increased defence spending


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan (Photo: IANS)

The Japanese ruling party, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is seeking to boost the nation's defence budget citing threat from a militarily aggressive China and an increasingly adventurous North Korea.

As Japan goes to general elections later this month, its political parties are presenting their agenda before the people.

The LDP, which is now led by new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said in its election campaign that it may even double Japan's defence spending. Besides defence, it has also laid emphasis on pandemic control as well as improving economic security for the middle class which has been badly hit by the spread of the coronavirus.

Japan has consistently kept its defence budget under one per cent--committing itself to its constitutional obligations over keeping its defence budget low and not sending Japanese troops to fight on foreign lands. However, these commitments by Japanese leaders are getting diluted as western neighbour China rises economically and militarily.

Japan has increasingly begun to look at China as a threat as the latter has upped its harassment of Taiwan while taking over islands in the South China Sea in contravention of UN-mandated laws. Japan has interpreted these as a threat to its own sovereignty.

The party has made it clear that Japan will keep a wary eye on China. Sanae Takaichi, the party's policy chief, said: "We are demonstrating our resolve to defend the Japanese people's lives, property, territory, territorial waters, territorial airspace, sovereignty and national honour".

She added that the LDP will provide for policies that show firm diplomacy and a stronger defence capacity. The LDP also intends to highlight human rights issues related to the Uyghurs, the Tibetans and Hong Kong—all of which relate to China.

The party also plans to chase North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme. Pyongyang has recently indulged in a spate of missile launches, including one that it said was a hypersonic missile.

Any changes by Japan to its military and defence policies is greeted with unease from its neighbours due to its role in past conflicts and wars.

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