Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed to bolster Japan’s Self-Defense Force 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, with North Korea’s missile threat and China’s increasingly assertive maritime activity in the region.
Kishida, who took office in October, served as the top commander for the first time at a Self-Defense Force troop review held at the main army base Camp Asaka, north of Tokyo, on Nov. 27, which gathered about 800 troops 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 a so-called enemy base strike capability has been a contentious issue, with opponents claiming it violates Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution.
Kishida said he is open to doubling Japan’s military spending and capability, but added 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 biggest-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 a year earlier.
The proposed supplemental budget for 2021 will be just over 1 percent of Japan’s GDP, keeping its customary cap.