Sunday’s Asahi reported from Washington on its interview with Senator Hagerty, the former U.S. ambassador to Japan. The Senator reportedly called on Japan to swiftly raise its defense spending, which has been maintained at 1% of the GDP or less up until now, to 2%. The paper wrote that Senator Hagerty criticized China’s recent moves in the South China Sea and around Taiwan and expressed the view that further military contributions from Japan are essential for the United States and Japan to counter China. He reportedly expressed frustration by saying: “The United States allocates more than 3.5% of its GDP to national defense spending and stations U.S. troops in Japan and Europe. If our allies cannot raise their defense budgets to 2% of their GDP, it will be hard for us to explain this to our children and their generation.”
In a related story, Kyodo News reported on Saturday on the finding from a diplomatic source that President Biden expressed hope during a phone call with Prime Minister Kishida in October that Japan will increase its defense spending. Kyodo wrote that although the President did not mention exactly how much of an increase would be desirable, he conveyed his expectations for Japan to steadily make progress in reviewing its defense capabilities. Kyodo added that the issue is expected to be discussed at the next meeting between Biden and Kishida and during security talks involving the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers.