Japan’s ruling conservative party has presented its campaign on a platform of increasing the country’s defense spending to counter alleged threats from China and North Korea.
Announcing the pledge on Tuesday, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) also promised to “seek responsible actions” over alleged human rights issues related to Uyghurs, Tibet, ethnic Mongolians, and Hong Kong. It did not directly name China.
The platform also included tackling the pandemic and working to empower the middle class, while increasing the country’s defense budget beyond two percent of GDP, a ratio that would put Japan’s military spending on par with NATO countries.
Previously, the East Asian country’s political tradition was one of capping defense spending below one percent of GDP, which stands at around $5 trillion.
Since April, Japan’s Defense Ministry has been demanding a record budget of $50 billion in order to further boost the country’s military equipment and personnel.
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Sanae Takaichi, the Conservative Party’s Policy Chief, said, “We are demonstrating our resolve to defend the Japanese people’s lives, property, territory, territorial waters, territorial airspace, sovereignty and national honor,” adding that, “We will offer policies that will result in firm diplomacy and stronger defense capacity.”
The party also claimed that it would maintain its pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. However, recent North Korean rocket test-firing toward the Sea of Japan has raised the possibility that Japan’s current missile defenses may be rendered ineffective, considering that Pyongyang’s Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile is impossible to intercept due to its speed and complex trajectory.
“Japan’s current missile defense system will not hold” against an onslaught of hypersonic, trajectory-shifting missiles, an official from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) claimed anonymously.
The ability to attack enemy bases appeared to be a key issue in the leadership election of the ruling LDP in September. Newly-elected Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had suggested during campaigning in that election that he welcomed the idea.