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Japan unveils new defence policies

The acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles will strengthen Japan's ability to strike back at regional adversaries in the event of war. The subsonic cruise missile can be fired from surface ships, such as in this case of a launch from the USS Curtis Wilbur in the Philippine Sea in May 2019. (US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor DiMartino)

The Japanese government has approved three new security documents that will reshape the country's military strategy, increase the national defence budget, and allow Tokyo to acquire a counter-strike missile capability.

Approved on 16 December, by the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's cabinet, the National Security Strategy (NSS) document will set the framework for Tokyo's future thinking about national security. The other two documents − the National Defense Strategy (NDS) and the Defense Program (DP) − will create a road map for the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to fulfil the government's future defence mandate.

The NDS sets out military goals for the next decade and lays out the means to achieve them. The DP document charts total defence expenditures and procurement volumes for major equipment for the next five years. This document was known earlier as the Medium-Term Defense Program.

The DP document will increase defence spending to JPY43 trillion (USD315 billion) from fiscal year (FY) 2023 to FY 2027. This is a 56.5% increase from the JPY27.47 trillion that Tokyo originally planned to allocate for the five-year plan. This will increase defence spending to the NATO standard of 2% of the national GDP in 2027 − following Kishida's instructions to his defence and finance ministers to do so in late November, according to Japanese media reports.

The increased defence spending will allow Japan to acquire counter-strike capabilities.

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