Japan’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved a budget for the next fiscal year that includes the record number of 6.8 trillion yen ($50 billion) in defense spendingas part of the effort to Japan for fortifying his army as the influence of China in the region.
The defense budget for 2023, 20% higher than the previous year, includes 211.3 billion yen (1.55 billion dollars) for the deployment of tomahawk cruise missile US-made long-range missiles that can be launched from warships and hit targets up to 1,000 miles away.
The planned purchase of the Tomahawks has drawn criticism over its cost, and opposition lawmakers have criticized the Prime Minister, Fumio Kishidafor giving priority to spending on weapons over other issues, such as the decline in the Japanese population.
Chinami Nishimura, a lawmaker from Japan’s opposition Democratic Constitutional Party, told a lower house budget committee meeting on Tuesday that “improving childcare has been neglected for more than 10 years.” “Why was the budget approved so quickly to spend so much money on Tomahawks?”.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of choosing between one or the other,” Kishida replied. “Both are important for people’s lives and livelihoods.”
Japan will pay to USA another 110 billion yen ($830 million) in the next fiscal year, which begins in April, for hardware and software needed to launch the Tomahawksin addition to fees for technology transfer and training.
Kishida told a parliamentary session on Monday that Japan will buy 400 units of Tomahawks.
The approval of the 114 trillion yen ($836 billion) budget by the lower house of parliament, the more powerful of its two chambers, guarantees that it will be promulgated at the end of March regardless of any decision of the upper house.
He huge defense budget is the first installment of a five year plan military spending of 43 trillion yen (315,000 million dollars) which is part of the new Japan National Security Strategyannounced in December.
The new strategy includes the development of a “counter attack ability” to anticipate enemy attacks, a controversial change given Japan’s commitment to maintain only defensive capabilities after its defeat in the Second World War. Military spending will nearly double over the next five years as Japan strengthens its defenses in response to potential threats from China, North Korea and Russia.
The new spending target is in line with the rules of the NATO and will eventually bring Japan’s annual defense budget to about 10 trillion yen ($73 billion), the third largest in the world after that of USA and China.
Measures for the aging of the population and the birth crisis
Kishida has called national crisis he rapid aging and the population decline Japan, and has promised to come up with a comprehensive package of measures to tackle the problem in the coming months. A new government department will be launched in April, the Child and Family Agencyto help coordinate government policies on various social issues, such as child poverty and the child abuse.
The budget allocates 4.8 trillion yen ($35 billion) to the new agency, but experts say more funding and broader social changes are needed to ease the burdens of child care and education and encourage younger Japanese to marry and have children.
Government statistics released Tuesday showed that births in 2022 they fell to a record low of 799,728, below 800,000 for the first time since 1899 and at a faster rate than anticipated. The number of births last year was a third of the peak of nearly 2.7 million reached in 1949.
The 2023 budget also allocates more than 850 billion yen ($6.25 billion) to the Ministry of Economy and Industry to help phase out the use of fossil fuels and 53 billion yen ($388 million) to promote the digitization and increase domestic manufacturing of computer chips.
On Tuesday, the chipmaker rapidusbacked by the government, announced plans to build a new semiconductor plant in Chitose, on the northern main island of Hokkaido. Rapidus said it plans to launch a prototype line in 2025, with mass production of the next-generation chips scheduled for “the second half of the 2020s.”
Rapidus has the participation of the car manufacturer Toyota Motor Corp., electronics manufacturers sony Group Corp. and NEC Corp., SoftBank Corp., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and the manufacturer of computer memories Kioxia. The company recently announced a partnership with International International Business Machines Corp. for the development and production of 2-nanometer chips.
(With information from AP)
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