Japan plans record defense spending in 2022 with 10th straight annual increase

Japan plans record defense spending in 2022 with 10th straight annual increase


Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government in late December 2021 approved record defense spending, with a 10th straight annual increase in 2022, against a backdrop of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) rapid military expansion and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The budget for the fiscal year starting April 1, 2022, will rise 1.1% to U.S. $47.18 billion, still less than a quarter of the PRC’s military budget in 2021, according to official Beijing data.

The higher spending plan follows an April 2021 meeting between United States President Joe Biden and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in which Suga pledged to strengthen his country’s defense capability in light of a more challenging regional security environment.

Tensions over Taiwan have risen as Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping seeks to assert his country’s sovereignty claims on the self-ruled island. Taiwan’s government says it wants peace but will defend itself if needed.

Shinzo Abe, who preceded Suga as Japan’s prime minister and remains influential in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said in December 2021 that any emergency over Taiwan would mean an emergency for Japan, as well as for its security alliance with the U.S.

Big-ticket items in the draft budget include U.S. $1.1 billion for 12 F-35 stealth fighters, four of which will be short takeoff and vertical landing variants operating off converted helicopter carriers. (Pictured: A Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A fighter participates in a military review in Asaka, Japan.)

Japan’s Ministry of Defense is also setting aside U.S. $750 million in the 2022 budget to develop its first domestic jet fighter in three decades. The project, expected to be completed in the 2030s, is being led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

The Defense Ministry is also earmarking U.S. $300 million to strengthen defenses against cyberattacks and U.S. $692 million for space-related projects, such as satellites and lasers to track targets beyond the atmosphere.

The draft budget must be approved by Japan’s parliament, where Kishida’s ruling bloc holds a majority.