New security policy set to boost Japan’s position on defense spending ranking

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Ground Self-Defense Force tanks take part in a drill in Shizuoka Prefecture in May.

The defense buildup approved by the government on Friday could see Japan’s ranking in terms of defense expenditures rise to third in the world based on planned spending of about ¥11 trillion in fiscal 2027.

Japan sits ninth in the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s 2021 defense spending ranking.

Japan’s fiscal 2027 defense spending — the defense budget plus defense-related expenditures —is expected to be almost equivalent to 2% of the nation’s current gross domestic product.

The defense budget, which stood at ¥5.4 trillion in fiscal 2022, is expected to be boosted to about ¥8.9 trillion in fiscal 2027.

The government aims to reach ¥11 trillion by including the Japan Coast Guard budget and expenditures in such fields as defense-related research and development; social infrastructure development; cyber countermeasures; and international cooperation.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization encourages its members to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s announcement on Friday about the drastic change in Japan’s security policy fulfills an “international pledge” he made to “substantially increase” Japanese defense spending during a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in May.

In 1976, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Takeo Miki adopted a policy to cap defense expenditures at 1% of gross national product.

Since the policy was officially abandoned by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1987, defense spending has only exceeded the level four times, including in fiscal 2010.