Kishida criticism grows for defense spending increase

Tokyo, Dec 13 (EFE).- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is facing increasing criticism from inside and outside his party due to the increase in defense spending the government plans for the coming years.

Weighty figures in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have been expressing in recent hours an unusual rejection of Kishida’s plans, who is going through a difficult moment within his own party as well as low popularity among the Japanese.

The reason is the confusion about how the increase in the Defense budget between 2023 and 2027 is going to be financed up to JPY 43 trillion ($ 312 billion), which represents an increase of 50 percent compared to the previous five years and equates it to at 2 percent of national GDP, the same level of spending as NATO member countries.

In recent days, various government ideas have been leaked to the press – sometimes contradictory among themselves – to pay for this increase, such as increases in corporate taxes and tobacco tax, cuts in other items or the issuance of new debt bonds.

To justify the increase in defense spending in the midst of an increasingly hostile security environment, Kishida appealed to the responsibility “of all citizens” to “be aware of the need to protect their own lives and those of their country” at a meeting Tuesday of politicians from the ruling coalition.

“I hope we all keep this in mind when we go deeper into the debate,” Kishida said of the budget talks, for which he called for “considering which funding paths are the most responsible.”

“It is the responsibility of people living in this era to shoulder this heavy burden and respond,” Kishida added.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Tuesday that any tax increase must be approached with caution to avoid a negative impact on business investments and wage increases, in the context of economic weakness due to the pandemic and global inflation.

One of the most critical voices against Kishida has been that of Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi, who said she “did not understand” the prime minister’s motives for proposing more fiscal pressure “at a time that could harm the economy.”

Takaichi called to address the debate in the medium term and in view of the commotion caused by his criticism of Kishida, he defended his position and said “there would be nothing to do” if the prime minister decided to terminate it, in a Tuesday press conference.

These and other party figures have shown the divergence of positions among the various factions within the ruling party, and in particular the group of supporters of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Japan’s opposition Communist Party General Secretary said the increase in military spending “is a path that destroys the economy and the lives of the people,” and called it “clearly unconstitutional” and ” unacceptable.”

The coalition formed by Kishida’s party and the Komeito Buddhist party plans to agree on a tax reform toward the end of the week, at the same time the approval of the new national defense guidelines with the aforementioned increase in military spending is expected. EFE


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