Experts seek public burden to strengthen defense

Jiji Press
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, second from left, front row, speaks in a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Monday.

Tokyo (Jiji Press) — The Japanese public must shoulder the financial burden of strengthening the country’s defense capabilities, experts said at a meeting Monday.

At the fourth meeting of a government panel on ways to drastically boost Japan’s defense power, chaired by former Ambassador to the United States Kenichiro Sasae, the experts submitted to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida a draft of the panel’s proposal pointing out that “securing a stable source of funding is fundamental.”

Other members signaled support for the experts’ view.

Specifically, the draft proposal rejected relying on government bond issues, and said that “the burden must be shouldered by the public through a wide range of taxes,” calling on the Kishida administration to consider tax increases as a key source of revenue for the envisaged defense buildup.

The prime minister praised the draft, saying that it is “very organized and includes opinions from a high perspective.”

“The government will consider the matter while consulting the ruling bloc and based on the expert panel proposal” as it steps up work to update its three key national security- and defense-related documents later this year, Kishida also said.

The draft proposal stressed that it is “essential” for the country to possess counterstrike capabilities, which target enemy bases and missile launch sites, in order to “maintain and enhance deterrence power.”

“Bearing in mind a time frame of five years from now,” the government needs to “secure a sufficient number of missiles” by improving domestic long-range missiles and purchasing foreign missiles, it added.

The panel will discuss further to draw up its final proposal.