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Center-left Kishida endorses bold moves in security realm

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When Fumio Kishida became prime minister, some questioned how this traditionally center-left politician would approach security issues. Would he put them on the back burner as he focused on economic and domestic policies? Would he step aside and let his home Liberal Democratic Party dictate defense matters?

Whatever the concerns may have been when he took office, Kishida has leaned forward on defense issues these past few weeks.

Despite the looming Upper House election and his own economics-focused agenda, Kishida has personally endorsed some bold moves in the security realm since taking office. Most notably, these have come with the supplemental budget, his position towards so-called strike capabilities, a recent decision on the evacuation of Japanese citizens in Ethiopia and his pursuit of a longer-term evolution of Japan’s security strategy.

Defense budget

On Dec. 6, the ruling coalition will convene an extraordinary session of parliament to pass the biggest-ever supplementary budget. Included in that supplementary budget is ¥773.8 billion ($6.7 billion) for defense spending, or about 13% of the annual defense budget. About half of it will go to subsidizing Japanese defense firms that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The other half is not for new purchases, but to expedite procurement projects that are already included in the budget for fiscal year 2022.

Although in practice this does not sound exciting, it represents something that has not been all too common in the realm of Japanese security: a sense of urgency. The Kishida administration will use the supplementary budget to bolster its southwest islands defense designs, purchasing missile defense equipment, anti-air equipment and transport and maritime domain awareness aircraft.

Also included in the supplementary budget are........

© The Japan Times

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