Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Japan Rising

As we started with Japan this week, let's stick with the topic - but this time on a more positive note.

Even more than the USA, Japan is a maritime and aerospace power. That is where her geography and technology give her the comparative advantage.

As the USA struggles to increase her forces to meet the challenge west of Wake, we rightfully look to our close ally in the region that has an impressive combo of GDP and population - Japan.

Even though she limited herself for decades to 1% of GDP on defense, with the size of her economy, she still has an impressive military. As those who have worked with her know, what she does have is quality in both personnel and material.

Keep all the above in mind as you read this;

Japan on Friday unveiled its biggest military build-up since World War Two with a $320 billion plan that will buy missiles capable of striking China and ready it for sustained conflict, as regional tensions and Russia's Ukraine invasion stoke war fears.

The sweeping, five-year plan, once unthinkable in pacifist Japan, will make the country the world's third-biggest military spender after the United States and China, based on current budgets.


"The Prime Minister is making a clear, unambiguous strategic statement about Japan’s role as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific," U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "He has put a capital “D” next to Japan’s deterrence," he added.

Meeting Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi in Taipei on Friday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she expected greater defence cooperation with Japan.


"The Ukraine war has shown us the necessity of being able to sustain a fight, and that is something Japan has not so far been prepared for," said Toshimichi Nagaiwa, a retired Air Self-Defense Force general. "Japan is making a late start, it is like we are 200 metres behind in a 400-metre sprint," he added.

China defence spending overtook Japan's at the turn of the century, and now has a military budget more than four times larger. Too few munitions and a lack of spare parts that ground planes and put other military equipment out of action are the most immediate problems for Japan to tackle, military sources have told Reuters.

Kishida's plan will double defence outlays to about 2% of gross domestic product over five years, blowing past a self-imposed 1% spending limit that has been in place since 1976.

"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,” the presidential office cited Tsai as saying.

It has been over a dozen years since we called for this, but 2% of GDP for Japan is great news for those who know what is needed in WESTPAC. 

Japan doubling defense spending? Huge.

The Japanese will be smart in this spending too. Most of it will go towards what they will need to secure the Northwest Pacific in any conflict - sea power and air power.

Excellent news.

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