Japan approved a record-high defense budget of $56 billion and relaxed some arms export controls.
The Japanese Cabinet on December 22 approved a budget worth 56 billion USD, a record high and an increase of about 4 billion USD compared to last year. This budget package is part of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s commitment to increase defense spending in the next few years.
In the newly announced budget, about 2.6 billion USD is spent on the project of building two new warships equipped with the Aegis missile defense system developed by the US. Japan spent nearly 5.2 billion USD to strengthen the country’s defense capacity, including buying more missiles.
More than 520 million USD will be spent on the program to develop hypersonic missile interception systems. In addition, this budget also includes costs that Japan agreed to pay to the US to redeploy forces in this East Asian country.
Japan’s constitution limits the country’s military capabilities to defensive measures. However, Japan will update important security and defense policies in 2022, aiming to double defense spending to reach 2% of GDP like NATO member countries by 2027.
On the same day, Japanese officials also relaxed arms export controls, allowing the sale of air defense missile complexes that the country produces to the US. Japanese media reported that the sale of the Patriot PAC-3 variant to the US would be the first time Japan exported weapons since World War II.
Japanese officials said the decision to change the arms export policy was at the request of the US. Japan already strictly controls arms exports, but in 2014, this country’s officials relaxed some related regulations.
Japan’s defense industry is small, with the only customer being the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), which has an estimated revenue of about $20 billion annually.