Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday vowed to expand Tokyo’s alliance with the US under his new controversial military spending plan that breaks from the country’s post-World War II pacifism.
Kishida made the comments when previewing an upcoming visit to Washington DC, where he will meet with President Biden on January 13.
“We will show to the rest of the world an even stronger Japan-U.S. alliance, which is a lynchpin of Japanese security and diplomacy,” Kishida said, according to The Associated Press. “We will also show our further cooperation toward achieving a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific.'”
Kishida’s spending plan will double Japan’s military budget over the next five years, making it 2% of the country’s GDP and the third largest in the world. The military buildup has been celebrated by US officials and is specifically aimed at China.
A new national security strategy released by Kishida’s government names China as “the biggest strategic challenge, unlike anything we have seen before,” echoing language in the Pentagon’s 2022 National Defense Strategy.
One of Kishida’s most controversial plans is his decision to purchase hundreds of US-made Tomahawk missiles, which have a range of over 1,000 miles, putting China and North Korea well within reach. Under Japan’s US-imposed constitution, the country’s military is only supposed to be used in self-defense, but that is changing.
According to journalist Tim Shorrock, Japan’s new national security strategy includes language that allows attacks on other countries not just in Japan’s defense but also in situations “where the US is under attack.” Kishida’s policies represent the vision of Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated last year, after he was out of office.
When he was prime minister from 2012 to 2020, Abe began taking steps that moved Japan away from its post-World War II constitution. At the time, Shorrock described Shinzo’s policies as turning Japan into “America’s new proxy army,” and he said Kishida’s new plans will further that process.