Japan’s government has approved a record USD56 billion defence budget for 2024, a 16% increase on military expenditure in addition to its easing of regulations on the post-war ban of lethal weapons exports. This latest move further punctuates Japan’s gradual shift away from their well-known self-defence-only principle.
The year 2024 is the second year of Japan’s five-year military build-up programme, in which it plans to spend USD300 billion through 2027 and strengthen their strike capabilities with American-manufactured weapons such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning and Tomahawk cruise missiles among others. Approximately USD5.7 billion will go to procuring upgraded Type-12 surface-to-ship missiles (SSM), Tomahawk missiles, as well as the development of hypersonic guided missiles that can reach up to 3,000km away.
Defence Minister Minoru Kihara announced that the deployment of the Type-12s have and procurement of Tomahawk missiles have been moved forward one year ahead of initially planned. Additionally, USD8.78 billion will be put towards building up missile defences, including the construction of a pair of Aegis-equipped warships that are slated for deployment between 2027 and 2028 for USD2.62 billion. The ships would reportedly be fitted with the Lockheed Martin SPY-7 radar which is capable of tracking missile launches that are typically more difficult to detect, such as those on high-arch trajectories in a manner similar to North Korea’s missile tests, including an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch recently.
Another major project is a USD530 million plan to develop glide-phase interceptors with the US and targeted for deployment around 2030. These interceptors are designed to negate hypersonic missiles being developed by China, North Korea and Russia.
Furthermore, USD632 million worth of subsidies have been allocated to reinforce Japan’s modest defence industry and hopefully increase sales and exports.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration has allowed weapons and components manufactured in Japan under foreign licences to be exported to aforementioned licencing nations. A major and divisive step since the materiel export ban was revised in 2014.
“In taking the action, we hope to contribute to defend a free and open international order based on the rule of law and to achieve the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. There is no change to our principle as a pacifist nation,” added Kishida.
Soon after, Japan approved to export Patriot guided surface-to-air missiles (SAM) manufactured in Japan via American licence to the United States. It has been speculated that Japanese-made Patriot missiles may end up in Ukraine. Potential future exports to the US, Britain and six other European licencing nations for materiel and components are on the horizon. Japan is spending almost USD500 million to jointly develop a next-generation fighter jet with Britain and Italy which will depend on Japan’s export restrictions being loosened. shp/adj/dl (Pix:Japan Ministry of Defense)