Japan PM Abe Says No Defense Budget Ceiling as 1 Percent to GDP


MARCH 02, 2017

Tokyo. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday (02/03) he will not cap military spending below one percent of the nation's economy, reaffirming his commitment to go further than other postwar governments in building up the country's armed forces.

In Mr. Abe's four years as Japan's PM, his government has reinterpreted the nation's pacifist constitution to allow Japanese troops the potential to fight overseas, eased curbs on military exports and reversed the defense spending cuts put into place by previous administrations.

"There is no logic in keeping the defense budget below 1 percent of the GDP under this administration," he told parliament, referring to an informal threshold seen as a curb on military spending.

"I will secure defense spending to protect our nation to protect our people's lives efficiently considering issues such as the current security environment in the Asia-Pacific region," Mr. Abe said.

Under the budget bill for the year from April, Japan's defense spending will rise for a fifth straight year to a record 5.1 trillion yen ($45 billion), seeking to counter North Korea's nuclear missile threats and China's latest maneuvers in the East China Sea.

But while Mr. Abe is hawkish by Japanese standards, his proposed defense budget is smaller than the annual increase proposed by United States President Donald Trump, who aims to boost Pentagon spending by a "historic" $54 billion, or an increase of 10 percent.

China's military spending rose 7.6 percent last year, the slowest in six years by the official reckoning, to 954 billion yuan ($139 billion), but the influential state-run Global Times tabloid called last month for a rise of at least 10 percent this year, to deal with the uncertainty brought on by the Trump administration.