Abe apparently told the WSJ that Japan does not plan to raise its defense spending to match China’s growing defense expenditures, which, the article reports, have actually been falling in Japan for the past five years. This is yet another reminder that for Japan, normalization is a legal process, not a rearmament process — changing the software of Japanese security policy, not necessarily the hardware.
Accordingly, I wonder how Japan’s defense budget will accommodate the purchase of F-22s (which are not even for sale yet) to replace the ASDF’s aging fighter fleet. All the more reason for Japan to desire a readjustment of its contributions to the relocation of US Marines to Guam.
But all in all, Abe’s remarks serve as a reminder that Japan — with or without the US — is hardly prepared to balance against China. “Coopetition” will remain the watchword of the regional security environment for decades to come.