Tokyo, Aug. 10 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration will step up discussions on whether it should acquire counterstrike capabilities toward year-end, when it will revise its National Security Strategy and two other key security documents.
After Kishida’s reshuffled cabinet was launched Wednesday, the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition is seen starting talks on the issue in autumn. The LDP is positive about possessing the capabilities, while its coalition partner, Komeito, remains cautious.
Kishida has stated that Japan “will drastically strengthen its defense capabilities within five years without ruling out any options, including the possession of counterstrike capabilities.”
Behind the drive for greater defense capabilities is the deteriorating security situation surrounding the country.
On Aug. 4, some of the ballistic missiles launched by China during its military drills around Taiwan fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The incident, unprecedented between Japan and China, has once again highlighted the possibility that a Taiwan contingency would likely spill over to Japan.
In addition, North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles this year. While its missile technology has become more advanced, the country is believed to have finished preparations for a nuclear test.
Russia, engaging in military attacks on Ukraine, is also taking a more confrontational stance toward Japan.
The Defense Ministry plans to make a record budget request of 5.5 trillion yen for fiscal 2023. It will also request spending on many items without specifying how much money would be necessary.
Details of the defense budget will be decided by year-end after talks at the ruling parties.
The key thorny issue would be how to finance the expected defense spending growth.
The late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for new government bond issuance, while Kishida has underscored the need to secure proper financial sources to cover the expansion.
Some within the government and the ruling bloc say that a tax hike and social security cost cuts would be inevitable. But it would be difficult to win public support for such measures.