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Japan's ruling LDP pledges to bolster defence as election nears

Japan's ruling LDP pledges to bolster defence as election nears

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at his official residence as a 150-day ordinary Diet session was closed, in Tokyo, Japan, June 15, 2022. Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO: Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party pledged on Thursday (Jun 16) to secure enough budget to fundamentally strengthen the country's defence capability in five years.

Tokyo's defence budget has roughly been 1 per cent of its GDP in recent years

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 per cent of gross domestic product on defence, although Japan is not a member.

"The size of the defence 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, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and a series of missile launches by North Korea have driven up worry 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.

Source: Reuters/gs

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