Japan’s evolving military strategy warrants close attention

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F-15
Two F-15Js in fight. (Source: MOD JAPAN)

Jakarta, IO – On December 16, 2022, the Japanese government formally released three strategic documents: the Medium-Term Defense Program (MTDP), National Security Strategy (NSS), and National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG). According to a Japanese announcement, China will be seen as the “greatest strategic threat” over the next five years as defense expenditure is increased to an unprecedented 43 trillion yen. The international community should pay close attention to and exercise caution on this shift in Japan’s military strategy and subsequent associated actions.

Enhance strength training significantly 

Japan’s role in US global policy, particularly in the Indo-Pacific area, has grown as the US intensifies its execution of the Indo-Pacific Strategy to curb China’s ascent. Japan has a chance to improve its military capabilities and a reason to do so because to the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. 

First, there has been a significant rise in defense spending. Since 1960, Japan’s defense spending has only represented little more than 1% of its GDP. However, on December 5, 2022, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida formally ordered an increase in defense spending to reach 43 trillion yen over the next five years. This is over 1.5 times the 27.47 trillion yen that Japan spent on military overall during the preceding five years. Japan will pay 2% of its GDP on military by 2027, which is the percentage of GDP that the US demands its NATO partners to spend on defense each year. 

The second is the growing focus on the realms of cyber and space. In the realms of cyber and space, Japan has significant technical advantages. Japan does not, however, have a legal foundation for the growth of fighting power in the relevant domains due to the limitations of the peace constitution. Japan has actively created new forms of fighting forces, such as cyber and space operations, in recent years by using adaptable strategies to get over limitations. It also plans for and allocates funding for enhancing its space warfare capabilities in its routinely and irregularly amended NDPG and Defense White Paper. 

The third is the remarkable advancement of intelligent unmanned machinery and systems. The majority of the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s (JSDF) current drones, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, are reconnaissance models, while attack drone formations and construction urgently need to be strengthened. The Japanese Ministry of Defense originally put out the proposal of “preparing attack drones” in the Fiscal Year 2023 defense budget. The Japanese Ministry of Defense is working to create high-powered laser and microwave weaponry to counter drone swarm operations while also enhancing the combat capabilities of drones.