Regarding the strengthening of defense capabilities, the government intends to advance discussions “without excluding any option, including counter-attack capabilities”, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
The white paper also notes that North Korea is making progress in developing ballistic missiles that fly on irregular trajectories at low altitude, to improve its ability to perform a saturation attack, where many missiles would be launched at once.
The white paper also refers to advanced hypersonic missiles, assessing that North Korea is “committed to developing such a system to break through a missile defense system.”
That said, the document then asks a question: “Can we really defend people’s lives and livelihoods just by improving our interception capabilities?” thus strongly suggesting the need for counterattack capabilities.
While bearing in mind criticism from some opposition parties that a counterattack would constitute a “preemptive attack”, the white paper stresses that “the use of force by our country after an enemy has launched an armed attack should not be confused with a “preemptive attack”.’”
The white paper provides an international comparison of national defense spending among the major Group of Seven economies. US defense spending is 3.12% of its gross domestic product, and South Korea is 2. 57% of its GDP. Meanwhile, those of Japan are at less than 1%. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is calling on the government to increase the defense budget, with a target of more than 2% of GDP.
Yet it is inevitable that the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was a key standard-bearer for the budget increase, will impact the discussion on defense spending. During his talks at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday with Ryu Shionoya, former Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and also a member of the Abe faction, Kishida said: “The loss of Mr. Abe has a major impact,” expressing concern over the effect on talks to revise the three defense-related documents.
As some have indicated that the Komeito – the LDP’s coalition partner – and the Ministry of Finance may more strongly state their concerns about increased defense spending in the coming days, the direction of the talks is sure to attract attention.
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