Japan’s defense budget for fiscal 2015 has edged up 0.8 percent to ￥4.82 trillion (US $41.12 billion), according to figures released Wednesday by the Ministry of Defense, bringing defense spending closer to 1990 levels.
While well below the 2.4 percent boost requested last August, the increase represents the third small hike in a row after a decade of decline as Japan adopts a more assertive defense posture under the administration of the conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“The level of defense spending reflects the amount necessary to protect Japan’s air, sea and land, and guard the lives and property of our citizens,” said Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, speaking ahead of the release of the figures.
In July, Abe changed Japan’s interpretation of its constitution to allow for limited rights of collective self-defense, meaning that Japan could come to the aid of another country, for example, under certain circumstances. A huge raft of legislation concerning this change should preoccupy Japan’s Diet this year.
Also, for the first time since 1997, Japan and the US are rewriting their defense cooperation guidelines to work together more closely.
The MoD will receive funding for all the major purchases it has requested to begin updating its Air Force, restructure its defense posture to better protect its Nansei (southeast) island chain south of Okinawa, and boost its naval fleet to strengthen its deterrence posture against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.