Japan approves new defense roadmap with ‘counterstrike’ capabilities

Tokyo, Dec 16 (EFE).- The Japanese government approved Friday its new defense roadmap, which for the first time includes enabling its armed forces with the capacity to attack enemy bases in the event of a threat to national security, in addition to a record increase in its military spending.

The cabinet led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida approved three new documents marking the defense roadmap for the next decade, which come after two years of negotiations within the ruling coalition and mired in controversy.

The highlight of the roadmap is the “counterattack capability,” which stipulates that Japan must have the military means to reach targets on enemy territory in response to what it decribes as the most serious security environment since the Second World War.

The documents set out the following conditions under which these “counterattacks” may be carried out – in the event of an aggression against Japan or an allied country that compromises Japan’s survival, when there are no appropriate means to repel the attack and that the use of force is as minimal as possible.

Japan has not had military capabilities to reach long-distance enemy targets since the end of World War II because of pacifist Constitution and a bilateral security agreement with the United States, which guaranteed protection against any external threat.

To build on these new capabilities, Japan plans to acquire “standoff” or remote attack weapons, including US-made Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles and the indigenous development of hypersonic missiles, anti-ship guided missiles and combat drones, among others.

The new roadmap is aimed at adapting to China’s increasing military assertiveness – which it defines as an unprecedented strategic challenge -, North Korea’s continued missile launches, and the Ukraine’s invasion by Russia, a country with which Japan has territorial disputes.

The roadmap also includes a target of raising Japan’s military spending between 2023 and 2027 to 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), bringing it at par with NATO member countries and doing away with the 1 percent cap that it had maintained for decades.

However, this new defense outlook has led to protests and criticism from the opposition and legal experts, among others, over the higher military expenditure that it entails.

Hundreds of people protested outside the prime minister’s office in Japan on Friday against the new defense roadmap.

“For the past 80 years after World War II, we have maintained a policy of trying to curb military spending and have renounced force. Now, the government is destroying this policy,” Shigeo Kimoto, one of the organizers of the protest, told EFE.

The 67-year-old said that in the event that Japan decided to get long-range missiles, it could be seen as a threat by China, which could then retaliate.

Tax money “should be spent on improving the country’s standard of living,” he added.

There are also concerns that the new plan contradicts the pacifist nature of the Constitution, which rejects war as a way to resolve international conflicts.

“I want Japan to remain a peaceful country and avoid escalating the military atmosphere prevailing in the world,” said another protester, who preferred to remain anonymous. EFE


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