Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) soldiers take part in a live fire exercise at the JGSDF's training grounds in the East Fuji Manuever Area in Gotemba on May 22, 2021. (AKIO KON / POOL / AFP)
TOKYO - Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party pledged on Thursday to secure enough budget to fundamentally strengthen the country's defense capability in five years.
Tokyo's defense budget has roughly been 1 percent of its GDP in recent years
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party made the promise in its campaign manifesto ahead of an upper house election slated for July 10
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's LDP made the promise in its campaign manifesto ahead of an upper house election slated for July 10. While it did not give a target for the increase, it referred to the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, although Japan is not a member.
"The size of the defense budget is something that shows a state's firm resolve that it will absolutely protect its people and territory in any situation," LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi told a news conference.
"Unlike other budget items, it sends a strong message to other countries and regions," said Takaichi, who ran in a party leadership election last year in a bid to become Japan's first female prime minister, but lost to Kishida.
She did not give details of which countries she was referring to.
However, the Ukraine crisis and a series of missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have driven up concern among the Japanese public over the nation's security in recent months.
Kishida enjoys robust voter support, with the public largely approving his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his responses to the Ukraine crisis, although rising prices have trimmed his support rates by a few percentage points.