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Japan scraps defense budget restrictions

Japan to remove 1% GDP cap on defense budget due to China threat

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Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan has decided to remove the 1 percent GDP restriction on its defense budget.

Japan Minister of Defense Kishi Nobuo on Thursday (May 20) said that in response to China’s increased military capabilities, the nation must increase its defense capabilities “at a radically different pace than in the past,” in an interview with The Nikkei.

He said that as the security environment surrounding Japan is changing quickly, "We will properly allocate the funding we need to protect our nation."

The decision comes after Japan pledged to "bolster its national defense capabilities to further strengthen the alliance and regional security" in a Japan-U.S. joint statement released after a White House summit last month.

The defense minister said that as Beijing has grown more assertive, Washington has encouraged Japan to bolster bilateral defense capabilities as well as its own. The military balance between Japan and China has "leaned heavily toward China in recent years, and the gap has been growing by the year," Nobuo said, adding that Japan needs to expand into new areas of warfare including space, cyber, and electromagnetics.

As to whether Japan and the U.S. will revise their defense guidelines to take into account a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, Nobuo said that though there are no current plans to do so, "We'll need to adjust to changes in the situation and make changes as needed."

Regarding regional security cooperation, Nobuo said he hopes a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue for defense ministers will take place in the near future.

Since the 1990s, Japan's defense budget has remained below 1 percent of its GDP, except in 2010, according to The Nikkei. Exceeding 1 percent would be a turning point for Japan's security policy and could cause Beijing to object.