Shinzo Abe wants to let Japan’s defense truly grow by 2020

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has formulated a sweeping defense policy that seeks to boost Japan’s ability to deter aggression and preserve its security interests.

Addressing a regular session of Parliament, officials announced that Shinzo Abe will seek further reforms of a defense policy that has been criticized as ineffective in safeguarding Japan’s security interests after decades of conflict, including the 1950-1953 Korean War.

To meet this goal, Abe will propose linking stronger spending on defense with a clearer implementation of current orders on defense procurement, the public broadcaster NHK reported, citing a spokesman for the government.

The sprawling policy proposal, called a white paper, will also call for Tokyo to take control of its defense policies and direct its defense spending accordingly, according to NHK.

“As Japan will need to strengthen its self-defense capabilities, a bigger role for Japan’s military is inevitable,” Abe said. “I will protect the security of our country by aiming to develop a strong military so that it can secure its own security by itself.”

The white paper is expected to be released in March.

Problems with Japan’s defense apparatus were highlighted in September when a ferry skipper and a junior high school girl were injured in a suspected attack on a coastal Defense Ministry facility by North Korean soldiers.

The accident was deemed a serious breach of protocol and it prompted a Japanese defense expert to ask whether Japan is unprepared to defend itself.

This month, the Defense Ministry released a draft of a military budget, in which spending is nearly equal to $80 billion next year. Last year, Japan allocated 56.6 trillion yen ($492 billion), or about $6,400 per person.

More than $36 billion of Japan’s budget will be allocated for buying new military equipment and for paying the salaries of the ranks of military personnel.

In contrast, an Associated Press survey found that Americans are willing to spend less than $5,000 per person on defense, highlighting the challenge Abe faces.

Abe has been pushing to expand Japan’s defense options following North Korea’s increasingly provocative acts. North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear tests have rattled Tokyo and highlighted concerns over its neighbors.

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