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Mainichi senior writer calls for realistic discussion on Japan’s defense policy

Special Senior Writer Yamada Takao of Mainichi Shimbun wrote that although many people said in recent public opinion surveys that they think the government’s response to price hikes is the most important issue in deciding who or which party to vote for in the July 10 Upper House election, national security is the real issue in the election because energy and other prices have surged as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Yamada speculated that the Japanese people may now realize that they could suddenly be deprived of the peace and prosperity they have enjoyed for years, pointing out that more than 60% of respondents in recent surveys expressed support for the idea of boosting Japan’s defense capabilities.

 

Yamada lamented some opposition parties’ naïve call for Japan not to become a “military power” by saying that repeating the “anti-militarism” mantra alone will not deepen discussion of Japan’s security policy. The journalist stressed that although Japan should not alter its “exclusively defense-oriented policy,” it should not look away from the reality of the severe security environment surrounding the nation, pointing out China’s reported deployment of as many as 900 medium-range missiles capable of reaching Japan and its intention to have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030. Prime Minister Kishida, who pledged a “substantial increase” in Japan’s defense budget at his summit meeting with President Biden in Tokyo on May 23, has stated no numerical target for the outlay but keeps saying that the nation’s defense spending must be discussed from the standpoint of its purpose, size, and financing. The journalist said that this is a realistic approach because the government needs to come up with funding from a tight budget. He argued that Japan should have realistic discussions on its national defense today because the public’s interest in the defense of Japan is growing like never before. 

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