Japan to confront China with largest ever military budget in history

China Military
Zhang Tao

BEIJING, Dec. 23 (ChinaMil) -- Japan's Cabinet approved Thursday a record defense budget of around 5.125 trillion yen (about RMB302 billion) for the 2017 fiscal year.

Since Shinzo Abe became the prime minister of Japan again in 2012, Japan's defense budget has risen for five years in a row, and "countering China" is a keyword stressed by almost all International media.

Kyodo News reported that considering China's maritime activities, the Abe's government adopted measures such as fortifying the defense on its southwestern islands and listed 70.7 billion yen for building garrisons on Amami Ōshima in Kagoshima Prefecture and southwest Miyako-jima in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.

The budget also included 72.8 billion yen for building a new-type submarine with better sonar and silence performance.

Kyodo News also said that the Japanese government attached great importance to reinforcing the equipment on offshore island defense bases including the Diaoyu Dao, and part of the budget was to purchase amphibious armored vehicles, F-35 stealth fighter jets, new-type aerial tanker and large transport helicopters.

The Japan Coast Guard that is stepping up vigilance around the Diaoyu Dao will receive a budget of 210.6 billion Japanese yen, much higher than the 187.7 billion in 2016 and about 10 billion more than what was applied, setting a new record of original budget.

The Japan Times reported that Japan Coast Guard will spend 27% of the budget on patrolling waters and enhancing vigilance around the Diaoyu Dao.

Japan will also build large patrol boats to increase the Coast Guard's fleet from 128 at the end of the 2015 fiscal year to 142 in the 2020 fiscal year, said Japan Times.

International media also pointed out that Japan's defense budget was specifically targeting China.

Bloomberg reported that against the background of continued tension between China and Japan over the disputed East China Sea islands, the Japan’s Cabinet approved a record defense budget of more than 5 trillion yen in the new fiscal year starting next April.

Agence France Presse (AFP) reported December 22 that because of the nuclear weapon and missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the territorial disputes with China, the Abe Cabinet Thursday approved Japan's highest annual defense budget in history.

Japan's defense budget has been on the rise for five years in a row, indicating the hawkish Abe's strong desire to strengthen Japan's military force, AFP said.

Reuters reported that the Abe's government Thursday approved a record-making defense budget to deal with Chinese military force in the East China Sea and the escalated missile threat from DPRK.

Under Abe's leadership, the Japanese Self-defense Forces are shifting their focus from defending northern territory to enhancing the defense on the southern island chain 1400km into the East China Sea, said Reuters.

This means that Japan will step up its mobile forces while reducing the tank division, including increasing Osprey transport aircraft, vessels and amphibious equipment and reinforcing the mobile missile troops.

Given the sluggish economic recovery and limited tax revenues, defense budget has kept rising whereas social security budget has only increased by 500 billion yen despite the aging of the society. This has triggered serious dissatisfaction among the opposition parties.

Renho Murata, head of Japan's Democratic Party (DP), the largest opposition party of Japan, said at a press conference on December 22 "the defense budget has increased for five consecutive years to more than 5 trillion yen, but the Japanese people have to bear the expenses on medical and old age care. What does that make our people feel?"

Akira Koike, the secretariat head and vice chair of the Japanese Communist Party, said that "the bad results of Abenomics are imposed upon the people, and the rising budget announces the aggressive stance of the Abe Regime, which seems to be unstoppable down the path of military expansion."

BBC said the social security bill that provided services for the aging population is putting a mounting pressure on the Japanese economy, and the increase of military and coast guard budget will add to Japan's debts.

Nikon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) commented that as cutting the social security expense became a main topic, Abe's special attention to defense budget seemed especially conspicuous.

The reporter noticed that all messages left on the website of Yahoo Japan were negative. Someone asked "when will the government stop making budget based on debts? Japan is walking into a gloomy future. The Abe Regime is hyping up threats from others while making provocations itself, and its purpose is to expand the defense budget and aggravate tension."

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