Japan and military funding: LDP divisions and America

Japan and military funding: LDP divisions and America

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – and former allies of the late Shinzo Abe who was assassinated – are arguing internally about how to generate the proposed increase in military spending. Many ordinary people in Japan are equally alarmed by the overt focus on the military angle of Kishida’s policies since he took office last year. 

However, opposition to Kishida’s plan concerns the likely increase in corporation taxes to meet the doubling of military expenditure. Ironically, opposition within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) isn’t focused on Japan’s increasing push to militarize, it concerns how to generate capital to fund the military increase.

Kishida seeks to avoid issuing more government bonds to pay for the defense increase. This relates to the shocking ratio of debt in Japan. However, with business sentiment negative concerning the economic convulsions of the coronavirus crisis and sanctions on the Russian Federation, it seems problematic to increase corporate taxes when Kishida also wants to increase wages. 

Kishida and other conservative forces within the ruling LDP condemn China, North Korea, and the Russian Federation at the drop of a hat. It is nothing to do with human rights – after all, look at the allies of Japan: instead, it is based on the nationalist legacy that emerged during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) which naturally blends with America’s containment policies of China and the Russian Federation.

Reuters reports – concerning Kishida’s defense spending, “That would take Japan’s annual defense budget to more than 11 trillion yen ($80.35 billion) from the current 5.4 trillion yen, giving the country the world’s third largest military budget after the United States and China at their current levels.”

Japan’s outstanding debt is shockingly high. This concerns the debt being more than twice the size of Japan’s economy. Hence, while Kishida promises no taxes next fiscal year, it implies budget cutbacks in other areas, utilizing funds not being used, and a future increase in corporate tax. 

Kishida said, “We will strengthen our defense over the next five years, and it should be maintained and further strengthened in the years to come after that… To do this, stable funding sources are critical. In this respect, (issuing) government bonds is not an option when we think about our responsibility for the future generations.” 

He continued, “Raising taxes is not our objective. It’s bolstering and maintaining the country’s defense capabilities.”

Kishida – noting the severity of the economic crisis in Japan – said, “We won’t increase burdens on people next fiscal year... We will consider implementing (tax hikes) in several stages over multiple years towards fiscal 2027.”

Sanae Takaichi, the Economic Security Minister, is more openly hostile to other regional nations. Also, she supports – and other supporters of the late Shinzo Abe – to endlessly issue government bonds. 

Takaichi is part of the rightist trend within the body politic of the ruling LDP. In the internal Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) election in 2021, it is worth remembering that Takaichi came second concerning Diet member votes. 

This points to the mounting nationalism within the ruling LDP. After all, Takaichi opposes the Murayama Statement that clarifies the war crimes committed by Japan during the war, denies Comfort Women being forced into sexual slavery, took a picture with a holocaust denier (Kazunari Yamada), and utilizes the Yasukuni Shrine openly in league with her nationalist tendencies. Hence, for Takaichi to come second in the Diet voting ballot last year – highlights the rise of nationalism within the ruling LDP.

Takaichi said, “I don’t understand the true intention of a prime minister who made remarks that would hurt (corporate) sentiment toward wage hikes at this time… There is plenty of time to check economic conditions and carefully examine (options).”

The ruling LDP seems distant from ordinary people and is over-focused on military spending and rebuking regional nations. 

Reuters reports, “Inflation in Japan is running at a 40-year high, driven by soaring energy prices from the war in Ukraine and exacerbated by a steep drop in the yen. Almost 90% of companies polled said continuing inflation was the biggest risk they faced in 2023, and 68% said it should be a policy focus for the Kishida government.”

The Cabinet approval rate of the Kishida administration was 54.1% in August before declining to 40.2% in September (surveys by Kyodo News). Since then, a further decline below 40%.

This isn’t surprising concerning the Moonies (Unification Church) scandal, the State Funeral of Shinzo Abe, coronavirus deaths reaching 51,500 (below 18,000 before Kishida took office), price hikes connected to sanctions on the Russian Federation, declining Yen to Dollar rate, endless monthly trade deficits, the slow response in helping people and other ills.

Hence, with mounting problems in Japan – including the low birth rate, the pension system, sexual discrimination in the workplace against women, and others – it seems strange that divisions within the LDP are emerging on how to double military spending. After all, the economic health of Japan is dire concerning debt – and tensions with China and the Russian Federation are largely self-induced. 

Japan plays the “nuclear weapons card” and claims opposition despite being protected by America’s nuclear umbrella. Thus, when Japan becomes the third biggest spender on military arms – and with American bases throughout the country (notably in Okinawa – Ryukyu): this nation will become a ticking time bomb in Northeast Asia concerning military power.

Is this what ordinary people want in Japan?

If Japan becomes the third biggest spender on military weapons – then what justification for having the protection of America and paying toward the upkeep of this military power?

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