Japan Begins Defense Upgrade With 26% Spending Increase for 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Japan will hike its defense spending by more than a quarter in 2023 to ¥6.82 trillion ($51.4 billion) as it begins a five-year program to toughen its security posture amid rising threats from China, North Korea and Russia.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The plans include acquiring missiles capable of striking neighboring countries, and the development of a new jet fighter with the UK and Italy. Japan will also stockpile ammunition, and bolster its Self-Defense Forces’ ability to quickly deploy troops and equipment to southwestern islands, where tensions with China are high.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet approved the budget plan Friday after the government announced the security overhaul last week — abandoning a decades-old cap on defense spending of 1% of gross domestic product after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spooked the public. The US welcomed the plans, but China and North Korea protested, while South Korea urged transparency.

Kishida’s spending plans also triggered a fight within his ruling Liberal Democratic Party over how to fund the expanded defense budget. While he vowed not to issue more bonds, construction bonds would be used to fund some purchases of ships and submarines, the Asahi newspaper reported Thursday without saying where it got the information.

The slump in the yen against the dollar over recent months means Japan’s cash won’t go as far when purchasing equipment from overseas. The ministry plans to bolster domestic capacity to produce ammunition and stockpile longer-range missiles. It will also seek to promote sales of domestically made equipment abroad.

Funds will also be earmarked for research and development of uncrewed aerial and underwater vehicles.

Japan’s shopping list includes more than ¥200 billion to acquire Raytheon Technologies Corp’s Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be fired from ships, and about another ¥50 billion for air-to-surface missiles from Lockheed Martin Corp. and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, according to documents provided by the Defense Ministry.

The following are some of the other items included in the budget:

  • ¥2 trillion for maintenance of equipment, almost double the previous year’s figure

  • About ¥1 trillion for ships and planes to be used to quickly deploy troops to other parts of the country

  • ¥828 billion for ammunition, about 3.3 times the amount spent the previous year

  • ¥269 billion to improve working conditions for SDF personnel

  • ¥250 billion to purchase 16 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets

  • ¥100 billion for joint development of the next-generation fighter with the UK and Italy

  • ¥58.5 billion for research into hypersonic missiles

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.