In the aftermath of the Second World War, Japan went through a process of thorough demilitarization. The country’s militaristic ideology, the effects of which were disastrous for the entire Asia Pacific region during WWII, was also dismantled by American occupation forces. The changes were codified in the new Japanese constitution which effectively banned the country from possessing a fully fledged military.
This changed to a certain degree during the zenith of the (First) Cold War when the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) essentially became the country’s military, although its role was limited to effectively being a footnote within the larger context of US-led “Free World” security policies. This approach lasted up until recently, when Tokyo decided to start a massive rearmament program aimed at turning Japan into a major military power.
On December 16, the Japanese government announced a $320 billion program that would make it possible for the JSDF to launch standoff strikes against China and other regional adversaries (presumably North Korea). Reportedly, the plan also involves the expansion of Japanese military power to include the ability to maintain a sustained front against advanced opponents. Speculation about the program started in late November when Tokyo hinted it could soon equip its submarines with long range missiles. According to a report by the Naval News, the Japanese Defense Ministry announced it was in the process of extending the range of its Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles deployed by the Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) from the current 200 km to a maximum of 1,200 km.
A Reuters report claims the new military plan would take approximately five years to complete and would also make Japan the world’s third largest military spender, right after the United States and China. The program would also focus on logistics as it would include the stockpiling of spare parts and various types of munitions, expanding transport capacity, as well as the development of cyber warfare capabilities.
The deal is also set to benefit the Japanese military industry, as companies such as the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are expected to be at the helm of the development efforts for long-range missiles that are set to constitute the backbone of the country’s new military power projection in the Asia-Pacific region. The company is currently involved in a project to develop Japan’s next generation fighter jet. The effort, which also includes corporate giants such as the BAE Systems and Leonardo SPA, is a joint venture between Japan, the UK and Italy. So far, the project received at least $5.6 billion in funding.
Foreign companies, particularly those from the US, are also expected to benefit from Japan’s (re)militarization efforts.
Additionally, Tokyo says it plans to arm its ships with the latest iteration of the “Tomahawk” cruise missile (most likely referring to the new Block V) made by the Raytheon Technologies. According to Reuters, other weapons set to be acquired as part of the new five year program will very likely include interceptor missiles for ballistic targets (apparently including the troubled ship-borne “Aegis” and its land-based “Aegis Ashore” version), attack and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) drones, satellite communications equipment, F-35 fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, warships and heavy-lift transport jets.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently stated that “Japan is at a turning point in history,” adding that “the ramp-up in its military was my answer to the various security challenges that we face.” According to Reuters, Kishida’s government is allegedly concerned that “Russia has set a precedent that will encourage China to attack Taiwan, threatening nearby Japanese islands, disrupting supplies of advanced semiconductors and putting a potential stranglehold on sea lanes that supply Middle East oil.” Needless to say, the claim that Russia set a precedent is quite bemusing, especially when considering the countless examples of the massive scope of US aggression against the world.
Expectedly, the program will be closely coordinated with the US, as shown in a separate national security document in which Tokyo pledged to maintain close security ties with Washington DC and its other vassals. The US itself was quick to show public support for the program. US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel stated that “the Prime Minister is making a clear, unambiguous strategic statement about Japan’s role as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific.”
In addition, the cooperation is apparently also set to include China’s breakaway island province of Taiwan. During a meeting with Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi on Friday, the incumbent head of the government in Taipei Tsai Ing-wen stated she expected greater defence cooperation with Japan. “We look forward to Taiwan and Japan continuing to create new cooperation achievements in various fields such as national defence and security, the economy, trade, and industrial transformation,” Reuters claims the presidential office cited Tsai as saying.
The plan is expected to double Japan’s military expenditures to around 2% of the country’s GDP over a period of five years. The previous 1% limit was self-imposed in 1976, nearly 50 years ago. This is also set to increase the share of military expenditures to around 10% of all public spending. To secure funding for the program, the current Japanese government announced tax hikes, which can only further exacerbate the country’s woes, including the disastrous demographic situation which is set to get even worse in the coming years.
With nearly 1,400,000 deaths and approximately 840,000 births per year, Japan is highly unlikely to get out of its current demographic “black hole”. And yet, instead of focusing on preventing further societal decline, the Japanese government is still blindly following the suicidal US diktat by investing precious remaining resources into a military project which is bound to fail from the start, as China’s unrelenting rise will dwarf anything its opponents could hope to accomplish.