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Japan: Panel calls for more taxes to boost military

November 22, 2022

Japan should raise more money for defense amid growing regional threats, an expert panel has said. The party of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wants to double the defense budget in the next five years.

 Japanese FH70 howitzer being fired during a military exercise
Japan is planning to build up its military and double defense spendingImage: Morio Taga/dpa/picture alliance

The Japanese government should instigate new tax measures to pay for a hike in defense spending prompted by regional security threats, notably from China, a panel of experts advising Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday.  

The experts' advice comes as Kishida's administration is looking for ways to fulfill its pledge on boosting the defense budget, which would result in Japan's biggest military buildup since WWII.

Kishida is set to announce a revised national security strategy and midterm defense buildup plan by the end of the year. His Liberal Democratic Party is aiming to double military spending to around 2% of gross domestic product over the next five years. That would mean a defense budget worth 10 trillion yen (€68.1 billion; $70 billion).

The plans come as Tokyo sees regional security undermined, not only by neighboring China, but also North Korea and Russia.

What did the panel say?

"Recognizing that the entire nation must cooperate in this, it is necessary to win public understanding with a range of tax measures that spread the burden," the panel's report said.

However, it also urged the government to curb other spending to bolster the country's public financial security.

Possible tax measures may include both more corporate tax from businesses and imposing higher income taxes on individuals.

Journalist Michael Penn in Tokyo on missile test over Japan

The panel also said that Japan should reinforce its arms industry and promote the research and development of dual-use cutting edge technology. It also called for improving Japan's commercial infrastructure for military use in an emergency and a boost in cybersecurity.

The 10-strong panel was headed by former Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenichiro Sasae.

With the new money, Japan would procure new weaponry such as longer-range missiles that could hit targets more than 1,000 km (621 miles) from its shores. These would be intended to deter China from attacking Japan or Taiwan, as well as thwarting North Korean attacks by hitting missile sites.

Since WWII, Japan's constitution has contained a clause renouncing the sovereign right of belligerency, but the country's devotion to pacifism has been increasingly called into question as the security situation in the region grows more tense.

tj/dj (Reuters, AP)