EXPLAINER: Why Japan is boosting its arms capability, budget

Dec 16, 2022, 8:15 AM | Updated: 10:16 pm
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a press conference at the prime minister's official re...

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a press conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. In a major break from its strictly self-defense-only postwar principle, Japan adopted a national security strategy Friday declaring plans to possess preemptive strike capability and cruise missiles within years to give itself more offensive footing against threats from neighboring China and North Korea. (David Mareuil/Pool Photo via AP)

(David Mareuil/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan this week adopted a new national security strategy that includes determination to possess “counterstrike” capability to preempt enemy attacks and double its spending to gain a more offensive footing and improve its resilience to protect itself from growing risks from China, North Korea and Russia. The new strategy marks a historic change to Japan’s exclusively self-defense policy since the end of World War II. Here is a look at Japan’s new security and defense strategies and how they will change the country’s defense posture.



The biggest change in the National Security Strategy is possession of “counterstrike capability” that Japan calls “indispensable.” Japan aims to achieve capabilities “to disrupt and defeat invasions against its nation much earlier and at a further distance” within about 10 years.

This puts an end to the 1956 government policy that shelved capability to strike enemy targets and only recognized the idea as a constitutional last-ditch defense.

Japan says missile attacks against it have become “a palpable threat” and its current interceptor-reliant missile defense system is insufficient. North Korea launched missiles more than 30 times this year alone including one that overflew Japan, and China fired ballistic missiles into waters near southern Japanese islands.

Japan says the use of counterstrike capability is constitutional if it’s in response to signs of an imminent enemy attack, but experts say it is extremely difficult to conduct such an attack without risking blame for striking first. Opponents say strike capability goes beyond self-defense under Japan’s pacifist constitution.

“(Japan’s) exclusive self-defense policy is hollowed,” the liberal-leaning Asahi newspaper said.



Japan aims to double its defense spending to about 2% of its GDP to a total of about 43 trillion yen ($320 billion) through 2027. The new spending target follows the NATO standard and will eventually push Japan’s annual budget to about 10 trillion yen ($73 billion), the world’s third biggest after the United States and China.

Kishida said his government will need an extra 4 trillion yen ($30 billion) annually and proposed tax increases to fund a quarter of it. His tax-raise request backfired and the five-year defense buildup plan had to be released without full funding plans while the governing party continued discussing how to pay for the shortfall.



Over the next five years, Japan will spend about 5 trillion yen ($37 billion) on long-range missiles, whose planned deployment begins in 2026. Japan will purchase U.S.-made Tomahawks and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, while Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industry will improve and mass-produce a Type-12 surface-to-ship guided missile. Japanese defense officials said they are still finalizing Tomahawk purchase details.

Japan will also develop other types of arsenals, such as hypersonic weapons and unmanned and multi-role vehicles for possible collaboration with the F-X next-generation fighter jet Japan is developing with Britain and Italy for deployment in 2035.

Several standoff missile units are underway at undisclosed locations.



Japan, lacking sufficient cybersecurity and intelligence capability, will have to heavily rely on the United States in those areas in launching long-range cruise missiles at intended targets, experts say.

“Without cybersecurity, Self-Defense Force superiority or Japan-U.S. interoperatibility is difficult to achieve,” according to the five-year defense program also adopted Friday, acknowledging the need to ensure cybersecurity at the SDF and Japanese defense industry.

This is a welcome development for the United States as the Japanese government’s weak cybersecurity has been “a critical impediment to deeper alliance cooperation and expanded information-sharing,” according to Christopher Johnstone, senior advisor and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Japan will spend 8 trillion yen ($58 billion) over the next five years on cross-domain defense including cybersecurity and space.



Fear of a regional security environment described as “the severest and most complicated” in the postwar era has been a driving force behind the revision to Japan’s strategy.

China, with its rapid arms buildup, increasingly assertive military activity and rivalry with the U.S., presents “an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge” to the peace and security of Japan and the international community, the strategy states.

Russia’s war on Ukraine sparked fears of a Taiwan emergency, accelerating the move to bolster Japan’s deterrence within the next five years. While North Korea keeps advancing its nuclear and missile capabilities, the main threat is still China, for which Japan has had to prepare “by using North Korea’s threat as a cover,” said Tomohisa Takei, a retired admiral in Japan’s navy.



Because of its wartime past as aggressor and devastation after its defeat, Japan’s postwar policy prioritized the economy over security by relying on American troops stationed in Japan under their bilateral security agreement, in a division of roles known as “shield and dagger.”

Prospects for even closer operation with the U.S. military under the new strategy has prompted concerns that Japan would take more offensive responsibility.

Japan says it will keep its pacifist principle of high standards for arms equipment and technology transfer. But some easing is planned to allow currently restricted exports of offensive equipment and components, including those of the next-generation F-X fighter jet, as a way to strengthen the country’s defense equipment industry.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Puyallup man accused in substation vandalism is released from custody

A federal judge issued the order for Matthew Greenwood, 32, after renewed efforts by his attorney to get Greenwood into a drug-treatment facility.
22 hours ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Associated Press

Democrats in Washington state choose Conrad as new leader

The Washington State Democratic Party has chosen Shasti Conrad, the former leader of King County Democrats, as its new chair.
22 hours ago
FILE - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson responding during an interview with the Associated Press, D...
Associated Press

In Iowa, potential 2024 GOP Trump challengers quiet for now

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — By this time four years ago, at least a dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls eager to make their case against Donald Trump had either visited Iowa or announced plans to soon visit the leadoff voting state ahead of the 2020 election. Iowa’s campaign landscape is markedly different this year, with a […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech during National Day celebrations in front...
Associated Press

Taiwan, Czech leaders affirm ties in defiance of Beijing

BEIJING (AP) — Defying China, the president of self-ruled Taiwan affirmed the island’s ties with the Czech Republic in a phone call with the Central European nation’s President-elect Petr Pavel. The call on Monday represents a symbolic breach of China’s attempts to cut off the already highly restricted foreign relations of the self-governing democracy, which […]
22 hours ago
Security officials and rescue workers search bodies at the site of suicide bombing, in Peshawar, Pa...
Associated Press

Death toll from Pakistan mosque suicide bombing rises to 83

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — The death toll from the previous day’s suicide bombing at a mosque in northwestern Pakistani rose to 83 on Tuesday, officials said. The assault on a Sunni mosque inside a major police facility was one of the deadliest attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent years. More than 300 worshippers were […]
22 hours ago
FILE - New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins speaks to the media after he was sworn into office ...
Associated Press

New Zealand PM Hipkins’ Cabinet to prioritize day-to-day

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he’s selected a team of lawmakers to lead the country that will focus on the everyday concerns of New Zealanders such as the rising cost of living. Hipkins, who was sworn in to the top job last week after the surprise resignation of Jacinda Ardern, […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
EXPLAINER: Why Japan is boosting its arms capability, budget