Why Japan Has A Rising Military & Defense Budget: a photo essay
Newly appointed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his plan to raise spending on Japan’s defense earlier in January amid an increasingly aggressive territorial dispute with China and Korea over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and the Takeshima/Dokdo islands. The right-wing Abe is known, controversially, as the second Japanese PM after Jun’ichiro Koizumi for visiting the Yasukuni shrine, where war criminals are enshrined.
Amid diplomatic tensions between China and Korea, Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) held its largest national ground exercise last summer in Shizuoka against the backdrop of Mount Fuji. Tanks, armored vehicles and various aircrafts participated using about 44 tons of ammunition.
JSRC presents a photo essay of its coverage of the Japan Self Defense Force military drill in August 2012.
On January 11th, PM Abe announced a 10.3 trillion yen ($116 billion) economic stimulus package and pledged to reverse a decade of defense budget cuts, a gesture which is a clear sign that Abe will not back down against the increasingly aggressive Chinese claim to the disputed Senkaku islands. Japan has a pacifist constitution and an informal spending limit of one percent of gross domestic product, in contrast to China’s annual double digits increases in it military budget, according to Bloomberg news.
The Japanese Defense Ministry requested 212 billion yen, as the budget for the fiscal year starting in April, an increase of about 2.6 percent, the first increase in 11 years. As part of PM Abe’s stimulus, the money would purchase additional PAC-3 missile interceptor and upgrades for F-15 fighter planes, a destroyer and a submarine. The budget for this year is 4.6 trillion yen.
Japan’s Constitution, written by the US, restricts the activities of its armed forces and relies on its alliance with the US. Abe said he wants to “strengthen this relationship to bolster Japan’s position toward China”, Bloomberg News reported.
“It will take good diplomatic work to strike a balance between taking necessary military measures and not offending or undermining our relationship with China,” said Narushige Michishita, director of the Security and International Studies Program at National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, in Tokyo.
On August 15th 2012, fourteen activists from Hong Kong were arrested after landing on one of the disputed and uninhabited Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, in the East China Sea.
In response to this action, ten Japanese nationalists swam ashore through shark infested waters to land on the same island to plant the hinomaru flag on August 19th, 2012.
One day before the memorial of war dead deified in the controversial Yasukuni shrine and de facto Korea’s Liberation Day from 1910-1945 colonial rule, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak demanded an official apology from Japan’s Emperor Akihito about the harm Japan has caused to Koreans during Japan’s imperialist expansion.
The Japanese government proposed to take the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), but Korea refused.
According to Voice of America, Assistant Press Secretary, Masaru Sato said at a Foreign Ministry’s press briefing that historical documents confirm that Japan established its sovereignty over Takeshima by the mid 17th century, before incorporating it into one of its prefectures in 1905. He said that the United States has acknowledged the territory is an integral part of Japan by denying a South Korean attempt to claim it after WWII.
At a press conference, the United States taking “no position” in territorial dispute over the Takeshima and the Senkaku islands, has urged Japan, South Korea and China to resolve the issues in peaceful manners. According to some analysts, the US State Department spokeswoman did not want to mention international law to avoid suggesting that the US supports Japan’s proposal to take the issue to La Hague.
However, the Japanese Director General of Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs, reminded that Japan and the US have both agreed that international disputes should be settled peacefully under international law.
China’s government owned news agency, Xinhua, reported that the territorial dispute is having a grave impact on the Japan-South Korea relationship, and a diplomatic source in Beijing said that China and S-Korea have some “shared values, both having suffered at the hands of Japanese aggression,” the Yomiuri Shinbun reported.
Japanese government officials said in August 2012 that prime minister in office, Yoshihiko Noda plans to send a personal letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao to express Japan’s wish to ameliorate bilateral tensions over the territorial dispute. However, yesterday afternoon, a vehicle carrying the Japanese ambassador in Beijing was assaulted. Also, French radio (Radio France International) reported a growing anti-Japanese movement in different big cities in China. According to RFI, these Chinese nationalists’ movement “embarrasses the Chinese authorities.”
Xinhua news agency reported that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that, “Daioyu islands were part of (Japan’s) territory,” whereas “the Meiji government integrated them into Japan in 1895 without the signs of rule by the Qing Dynasty of China at that time.”
Xinhua also reported that a Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said that “the earliest historical record of Diaoyu islands can be dated back to China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644),” and that “Japan claimed its sovereign requirement during the Sino-Japanese War in 1895 and seized the islands with illegal means.”