japan-self-defense-forceFor the third consecutive year [1], Japan’s defense budget is increased (2.8 percent over the previous fiscal year) till 4.98 trillion yen (i.e. 42 billion $) [2]. This is the largest ever defense budget in Japan and it will raise the defense expenses for the fiscal year which starts in April till 5% of Japan’s national budget [3].


The new foreign policy and defense policy approach of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and above all Prime Minister Abe’s approach to defense policy can be called, some commentators say, “a proactive pacifism” [4] and it obviously tries to adjust Japan’s position in an area with multiple and major strategic challenges: an instable North Koreea in a regional situation already destabilized by China, a country which plans to spend for increasing its military capabilities more and more money (132 billion $ in 2014, an increase of 12.2 percent in respect of 2013) [5].


The strong domestic position gained by the LDP after the December 2014 elections allows Abe’s cabinet to continue the change of defense policies – Japan changed its position in respect of the post-war ban on selling arms and armaments to other nations and this is the basis for several recent defense contracts for arms exports or co-production with India, Australia, France and some other countries.

This important defense policy change applies also in respect of the role of the alliance with the United States which is viewed today as a more “global” one [6]. This new vision is supported by the previous Abe’s cabinet decision to reinterpret Article 9 of Japan’s post-war constitution, in order to permit Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to participate in collective self-defense missions.

The severe economic difficulties Japan is currently confronted with might be not the best incentive to increase the military expenses, especially now when the attended rise of the economy is only 1.5 percent [7], after a year with a 0.5 percent decrease. The possible cuts in other budgetary chapters is another concern for economists and analysts, especially considering that in 2015 Japan will have the second wave of VAT increase. However the cheap yen and falling oil prices helped the Japan exports and this situation have clearly strengthened Abe’s position.

Japan will purchase new patrol aircraft, early-warning aircraft E2-D, F 35A stealth fighters, V-22 “Osprey” — crossover aircraft[8], amphibious vehicles, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd’s P-1 submarine hunting planes and ‘stealth’ Soryu submarines[9] basically covering Japan’s needs to protect itself by air, sea and land in the quickly changing regional security landscape. The defense budget also covers the costs of relocating U.S. military forces from Okinawa [10].

Quite clearly, a more powerful Japan, with larger military capabilities, might be an important element in any regional or even trans-regional attempt aimed at balancing the increasingly ambitious and increasingly assertive China.



[1] Ankit PANDA, “Japan Approves Largest-Ever Defense Budget”, The Diplomat, January 14, 2015, at the Internet address http://thediplomat.com/2015/01/japan-approves-largest-ever-defense-budget/?utm_content=bufferf3f9f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

[2] Ibidem

[3] Isabel REYNOLDS, Kyoko SHIMODOI, “Japan Boosts Defense Spending to Counter China Island Claims”, Bloomberg, January 13, 2015, at the Internet address http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-13/japan-boosts-defense-spending-to-counter-china-s-island-claims.html

[4] Ankit PANDA, op. cit.

[5] Ibidem

[6] Ibidem

[7] Ibidem

[8] “Japan Approves Biggest Ever Defense Budget Amid Asia Tensions”, The Manila Times, January 14, 2015 accessed at the Internet address http://www.manilatimes.net/japan-approves-biggest-ever-defense-budget-amid-asia-tensions/155330/

[9] “Japan Approves Record Military Budget to Counter Chinese Threat”, Reuters, Fortune Editors, January 14, 2015, accessed at the Internet address https://fortune.com/2015/01/14/japan-approves-record-military-budget-to-counter-chinese-threat/

[10] Ibidem



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