Japan to provide defense aid to ‘like-minded’ countries for first time

Tokyo, Apr 5 (EFE).- Japan is to provide militaries of like-minded countries with aid aimed at strengthening their security and maintaining peace, Tokyo’s foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Through the new Official Security Assistance (OSA) program, Japan will “provide equipment and supplies as well as assistance for the development of infrastructure for the benefit of the armed forces and related organizations” of the chosen countries.

“Japan is in the midst of the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II,” the ministry said. “Under such circumstances, in order to protect, develop and support Japan’s national interests, we must not only strengthen our own capabilities and roles, but also strengthen the security of our comrades.”

The objective is to create a “desirable security environment” and maintain international peace and security, it added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference that the aid may not be allocated for the purchase of lethal weapons that could be used in conflicts with other countries, in accordance with the regulations on arms exports.

The OSA targets maritime and aerial surveillance, disaster response and other forms of humanitarian assistance, as well as activities related to United Nations peacekeeping operations, Kyodo news said.

According to local media, among the countries that could benefit from the program are the Philippines and Malaysia, which, like Japan, have territorial sea disputes with Beijing.

Other possible recipients are Fiji and Bangladesh, where China has tried to increase its influence in the context of the global geopolitical struggle between the Asian giant and the United States.

The creation of the OSA, which will function separately from the Official Development Assistance agency, marks a significant shift in the development aid that Tokyo had been offering to other countries through that second agency, which is limited to non-military objectives.

The government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has allocated 2 billion yen ($15 million) of its budget for the current fiscal year to finance the scheme, which is integrated into the national security strategy approved in December, and which included an increase in military spending at the level of NATO countries and the acquisition of greater capabilities for the Japanese forces. EFE


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