Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Japan considers record military spending in 2017 in response to growing threats

The Japanese parliament is preparing to consider the fifth consecutive increase to Japan's military budget in the last five years, a testament to the growing threats it is surrounded by.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a 1.5 percent increase in his country's defense budget, increasing military expenditures for 2017 to about $44 billion as tensions increase with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea and North Korea's missile tests get ever closer to the island nation's coasts.
While the increases push Japan's military spending into the range of one percent of gross domestic product with a dollar amount greater than any year since the end of World War 2, Japan still has a relatively small military budget compared to China spending two percent of GDP and the United States spending about three percent of GDP.
"The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming ever more severe," said Defense Minister Tomomi Inada during a press conference earlier this week.
In addition to eight new patrol ships and 200 maritime law enforcement officers included in the budget for Japan's coast guard, the Japanese will be adding a new type of submarine and continuing to work on a missile defense shield with the United States.
Missile defense systems are a focus of many of the increases in the 2017 budget because of North Korea's provocations with the testing of missiles it says the expect to reach Japan.
The main focus of continuing to beef up defense and military equipment, personnel and strategies are the Chinese, who have tangled with any nation near waterways near the country, including the theft of a United States undersea drone last week.
While the Japanese naval fleet is dwarfed by the sheer size of the Chinese fleet -- China has nuclear-powered vessels among it's 60 ships, compared to the 17 diesel-electric submarines and other boats Japan has -- the small show of preparation and force is thought to keep China at bay.
"Japan's grand strategy is deterrence against China," said retired Japanese Vice Admiral Toshiyuki Ito, who is now a professor at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology. "It seeks to constantly show China of the high costs of missteps in order to prevent war."
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