Saturday, April 21, 2007

Japan's unchanging defense budget

Courtesy of Japan Probe, I came across this summary of Abe's interview with the Wall Street Journal, which seems to have focused more on defense matters than the Washington Post/Newsweek interview.

Abe apparently told the WSJ that Japan does not plan to raise its defense spending to match China's growing defense expenditures, which, the article reports, have actually been falling in Japan for the past five years. This is yet another reminder that for Japan, normalization is a legal process, not a rearmament process -- changing the software of Japanese security policy, not necessarily the hardware.

Accordingly, I wonder how Japan's defense budget will accommodate the purchase of F-22s (which are not even for sale yet) to replace the ASDF's aging fighter fleet. All the more reason for Japan to desire a readjustment of its contributions to the relocation of US Marines to Guam.

But all in all, Abe's remarks serve as a reminder that Japan -- with or without the US -- is hardly prepared to balance against China. "Coopetition" will remain the watchword of the regional security environment for decades to come.


Scott said...

Even if Congress eventually decides to lift the ban on the sale of the F-22, I don't think it will happen until after the F-35 has been in service for a while. And that's a big "if" - Australia (who is at least as close to the USA as Japan is) expressed interest in the F-22 and was politely told it wasn't going to happen. They've purchased some F/A-18 Super Hornets to bridge the gap until delivery of the F-35. The "collective defense" provided by the USAF F-22s based at Kadena is probably as close as Japan will get to owning some F-22s in the short- to mid-term. ;)

Scott said...

This article has some more background on Japan's quest to acquire the F-22:

Japan wants the fighters US refused to sell Canberra