File photo: Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Photograph:( AFP )
Japan will add $6.75 billion to its already record annual military spending in a rush to bolster air and maritime defences
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he will consider ''all options'' to counter China.
The country will add $6.75 billion to its already record annual military spending in a rush to bolster air and maritime defences.
"As the security environment around Japan worsens at unprecedented speed, our urgent task is to accelerate the implementation of various projects," the defence ministry said in its spending proposal.
Kishida said that “the reality is severer than ever,” with North Korea continuing to test-fire ballistic missiles while advancing its capability, and China pursuing a military buildup and increasingly assertive activity in the region.
As a result, Japan will upgrade surface to air missile launchers on islands at the edge of the East China Sea and Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries elsewhere that are the last line of defence against any incoming North Korean warheads.
“I will consider all options, including possessing so-called enemy base strike capability, to pursue strengthening of defence power that is necessary,” Kishida said in an address to hundreds of Ground Self-Defence Force members in olive-colored helmets and uniforms.
The possibility of possessing so-called enemy base strike capability has been a divisive issue because opponents say it violates Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution.
China's increasing pressure on Taiwan is causing jitters in Japan because Beijing's control of the island would bring Chinese forces within around 100 kilometres (62 miles) of its territory and would threaten key maritime trade routes that supply Japan with oil and other goods.
It would also provide China with bases for unfettered access to the western Pacific.
Kishida has shifted his dovish stance to a more hawkish one, apparently to please influential leaders within his governing party, including former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and to strengthen his grip on power.
(With inputs from agencies)