By Iwamoto Kazuki and Kawaguchi Shun
Increasing defense spending is becoming a point of contention in the Upper House election campaign. Asked for his views on this at a July 4 press conference, Maritime Self-Defense Force Kure District Commandant Ito Hiroshi noted: “Am I wholeheartedly pleased about (the spending increase)? No, not at all. Of course, this is only my personal opinion.”
Ito pointed out that a huge amount of money still needs to be allocated to finance social welfare programs. “All ministries want budget allocations, and the Japanese economy has not recovered to a level that special treatment can be given at this point.”
On debates that call for securing ammunition in Japan in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ito emphasized that “even if Japan were to purchase missiles and ammunition, our ships would not be able to use them at sea if they were not well maintained.” He called for understanding of the importance of allocating budget to the maintenance of vessels and aircraft.
Regarding Ito’s remarks, Ministry of Defense spokesperson Aoki Takeshi noted at a press conference on July 5 that “we understand the remarks are Ito’s personal opinions, and we need to do some fact-checking as well,” and he stressed that “the Defense Ministry will seek to secure allocations that can help to substantially bolster the nation’s defense capabilities.” (Abridged)