September 4, 2013
IT’S AS IF THEY LACK FAITH IN “SMART DIPLOMACY” AND “SMART POWER” FROM THE UNITED STATES: Japan Plans to Arm Itself to the Teeth as Neighborhood Gets Scarier.
The top dangers facing Japan these days are an increasingly belligerent North Korea and an aggressive China. Japan’s military plans to enhance surveillance and maintain a marine defense force that can be deployed to defend or retake far-flung islands. Japan already has the fifth-largest defense budget in the world, as Time reports, and its navy “bristles with modern submarines and surface warships, with highly trained crews.”
Still, is the increase enough to balance China? Several analysts who spoke to Time said it isn’t. China spent three times as much as Japan on defense in 2012. Japan has also signaled a need to partner with its neighbors in South and Southeast Asia to combat China’s “bullying.” Indeed, the increase in defense spending isn’t likely to add much to Japan’s military capabilities. Much of the increase will go to paying salaries that were cut after the tsunami, and it’s not clear the rest will bring in new attack helicopters or surveillance equipment anytime soon.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that Shinzo Abe’s hawkish government intends to stand up to Japan’s aggressive neighbors. Meanwhile, many of those neighbors (and even the quieter ones, like India) are themselves pursuing bigger military budgets, more capable navies, and more aggressive defense of disputed territory.
Hey, lots of Americans are stocking up on weaponry, too.