Japan is set to spend billions of dollars on US arms to narrow its trade surplus as it seeks to counter China and North Korea
- Japan’s Ministry of Defence reportedly wants to spend at least US$240 billion over the next five years, including on new American equipment
Japan’s military is looking to raise spending over the next five years in response to security challenges and to narrow Japan’s trade surplus with the United States by buying US equipment, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday.
The Ministry of Defence wants to spend at least 27 trillion yen (US$240 billion) between April 2019 and March 2024, with the spending rising an average 1.1 per cent per year, exceeding the 0.8 per cent average during the five years ending next March, the report said without identifying its sources.
Currently, payments on equipment and personnel expenses account for 80 per cent of defence spending, Nikkei said. Under the plan, funds for new equipment purchases will be separated from these expenses, making it easier to buy equipment from the US, it added.
Japan aims to have cabinet approval for the spending in mid-December, it said. The Ministry of Defence could not be reached for comment.
Purchases of American-made equipment could help Tokyo ease trade frictions with Washington as US President Donald Trump pushes Japan to buy more American goods, including military gear, while threatening to impose tariffs on Japanese auto imports to cut a trade deficit with Tokyo.
Japan’s Ministry of Defence in August sought record spending of 5.3 trillion yen (US$47 billion) next year to help pay for major upgrades to defences designed to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missile, which Tokyo sees as a continued threat despite Pyongyang’s promise to abandon nuclear weapons.
Japan remains wary of North Korean promises to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. The Ministry of Defence said in a white paper published in August Pyongyang remained Japan’s “most serious and pressing threat”.