Japan is arming itself and increasing its counterattack capabilities

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Fumio Kishida/Wikimedia Japan has announced that it will acquire pre-emptive strike capabilities using cruise missiles in the coming years to ensure a “more offensive position” against the threat from China and North Korea. This is the largest military expansion in this country since World War II, which will cost USD 320 billion over 5 years. This is an increase in expenses by half. Russia’s war with Ukraine and tensions over Taiwan have shown the need for Japan to build an independent defense system that will not depend solely on the US, according to documents approved by the Japanese government. Documents, including the “National Security Strategy” (NSS), announce an increase in defense spending to 2 percent of GDP. gross domestic product and gaining the ability to counterattack. Obtaining the ability to counterattack is a key feature of the three updated documents that will change the current policy of “not having the means to attack the enemy country”. The counter-attack is described as “minimum necessary means of self-defense” and limited to “military targets” such as missile bases. The NSS has been reviewed for the first time since its inception in 2013. The other two documents – the “National Defense Strategy” and the “Defense Forces Development Plan” received new names. The NSS describes Japan as “being in the toughest post-war security environment” and stresses that it faces threats from North Korea and China, which have repeatedly fired missiles near the country. Japan “will prepare a solid base for the worst-case scenario.” These documents also state that the center of world power is “moving towards Asia-Pacific.” They warn that “some countries” are trying to increase their clout and put economic pressure on other nations by limiting imports of natural resources and extending loans in a way that ignores recipients’ ability to incur debt. “The security environment surrounding Japan is changing rapidly,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference after the documents were approved. “I will definitely fulfill my mission as Prime Minister to protect and defend the nation in the face of a landmark moment in history.” At the same time, the prime minister acknowledged that Japan and China have “an important responsibility” in the Indo-Pacific region and that it is essential for the neighbors to build stable and constructive relations. Kishida also stressed that his country needs to strengthen its cyber defense. In light of repeated disputes with China and China’s incursions, as Japan puts it, into its territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands (known in China as the Diaoyu Islands), the NSS notes that China poses “the greatest strategic challenge ever faced.” From Japan’s point of view, there are growing concerns about China’s military build-up, which the documents describe in terms of lack of transparency. It also notes that “China has not denied the use of force against Taiwan” and has signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, a country historically close to Australia. Japan is also concerned about China’s close relations with Russia, which pose a challenge to the international order. The provisions of the new Japanese defense strategy were protested by China and North Korea, but also by South Korea, which issued a strong protest against Japan’s territorial claims to the disputed islands. It has also reacted cautiously to Tokyo’s plans for an unprecedented increase in military spending, which evokes there militaristic memories of World War II. China also reacted sharply to the change in Japanese strategy. A statement released in Chinese by the Chinese embassy in Tokyo said Japan “falsely claims that China’s external posture and military actions are serious matters for the international community.” According to China, the NSS “severely deviates from the basic facts, violates the spirit of four China-Japan political documents, deliberately incites threats from China, and provokes regional tensions and confrontations.” After the announcement of the new Japanese strategy, a squadron of ships of the Chinese Navy sailed through the straits near Japan to the Western Pacific.

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