MELBOURNE, Australia — Japan’s prime minister has asked his Cabinet to secure enough funds to raise defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product in five years, continuing a recent trend of increasing the defense budget, according to the country’s defense minister.
Fumio Kishida told Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada during a meeting that Japan needs to urgently increase its defense budget by fiscal 2027, Hamada said.
Kishida also said his administration needs to review government expenditures and revenue streams, as well as decide how it can secure extra funding to increase the defense budget, Hamada added.
Japan typically spends no more than 1% of its GDP on defense; the increase to 2% would bring it in line with the aspirations of NATO members, of which Japan is not a signatory.
The proposed increase would total about $287 billion over the next five years. In comparison, Japan’s defense budget for the fiscal year that ends in March 2023 is $39.66 billion.
Japan considers North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and China’s military activity in the region as threats to the homeland. To that end, the government plans to revise its national security strategy by the end of this year. That document provides Japan with long-term diplomacy and security policy guidelines.
The defense spending announcement follows several other military-related changes, such as allowing the export of military equipment and the acquisition of longer-ranged weapons.
Japanese media has reported the country is seeking up to 500 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the U.S. This comes after word the Asian nation is getting standoff, air-launched missiles for its F-35 fighter jets and is increasing the range of its indigenous land-based anti-ship missile.
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing also recently announced Japan awarded it a contract for two further KC-46A tankers, bringing its fleet to six. Two aircraft were already delivered, the first in October 2021 and another in February 2022.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.