Thursday, January 10, 2013

The No-Longer-Setting Sun

Japan is reversing their long defense spending slide, as the China threat grows, North Korea threatens to go down in a blaze of nuclear glory, and South Korea feels its own strength growing.

China has been put on notice by a small but significant change in Japan's spending priorities:

Japan's defense budget fell for the 10th straight year to 4.65 trillion yen ($53 billion) in the fiscal year ending in March, reflecting the constraints of the nation's huge public debt, which is the worst among major economies at twice the size of its annual economic output.

The Yomiuri said government will shelve the current National Defense Programme Guideline, which lays out defense policy for the next 10 years, and the defense gear shopping list for the next five years, while compiling new ones by December.

It also said the government plans to boost Japan's defense budget by more than 100 billion yen for the year starting in April, the first rise in 11 years, to fund fuel and repair costs for patrol planes and research on radar technology.

Japan would have been content to let defense spending slide but for China's growing military power. Japan sees no choice if they are to be able to defend themselves.

China should also worry about Japan regaining the confidence to use military power as an instrument of state power--especially when Japan views itself as the weaker power.

How sure are the Chinese that their shiny new fleet is really better than Japan's navy?