TOKYO, August 25. /TASS/. The Japanese government has embarked on the course of purchasing new more powerful and advanced weapon systems but the country’s armed forces lack the potential for conducting large-scale combat operations due to the absence of a sufficient amount of munitions, a leading Japanese military expert told TASS on Thursday.
"From the outset, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were not established for conducting an independent war with a large power, originally with the USSR," Yu Koizumi, a senior fellow of the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, said, commenting on the Japanese government’s efforts to set aside a record large defense budget for the next fiscal year.
"They have never had a sufficient numerical strength, sufficient armaments and munitions for such operations," he said. These forces were intended to hold on for some time until the arrival of the US troops and eventually to play a secondary role, he specified.
Fighting for no more than two months
"Owing to this, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces possess an extremely small amount of munitions," the expert pointed out. "Particular figures constitute a military secret. However, it is obvious that should a real war break out, the munitions will run out very quickly," he added.
As the data of Japan’s leading business newspaper Nikkei suggests, the munitions will at best last for no more than two months of a real military conflict, for example, in the area of Taiwan. Besides, 70% of Japan’s munitions have been stored on the northernmost island of Hokkaido since the Cold War period and the confrontation with the USSR and it will be extremely difficult to move them to the area of a potential stand-off in the East China Sea.
As the Japanese military expert told TASS, about 15,000 munitions are used daily in the course of ongoing combat operations in Ukraine, for example. "Japan has no capability to endure this scope of military operations," Koizumi emphasized.
China’s predominant might
A discussion is currently underway in Japan on boosting the country’s defense spending to 2% of the gross domestic product (GDP), the expert said.
"The focus in raising the defense spending will be on accumulating munitions and bolstering the defense infrastructure in the area of remote islands near Taiwan," the expert said.
"Today China possesses the predominant naval and air force might there," the expert believes. "If a real stand-off potential has to be created, this will also require building up other capabilities, aside from munitions: to ensure, for example, the necessary amount of aerial refueling tankers, anti-ship missiles, air defense and electronic warfare systems," he argued.
In Koizumi’s opinion, the fulfillment of this program is likely to require boosting the country’s defense spending to above 2% of GDP. The ruling Japanese coalition is now holding a discussion on whether the country can afford so large extra spending.
Bringing defense spending to NATO’s level?
Japan’s Defense Ministry plans to get record large funds of more than 5.59 trillion yen (roughly about $40.7 billion at the current exchange rate) for the 2023 fiscal year. If the country’s parliament approves this request, Tokyo’s military expenditures will rise by more than 4% compared to this year. However, as sources of the Kyodo news agency say, the requested defense spending does not stipulate specific figures on many budget items. As a result, the final amount of military appropriations will rise at least by another 1 trillion yen past the level of 6.5 trillion yen ($47.3 billion at the current exchange rate).
These funds are intended, in particular, to be channeled into developing and mass producing long-range missiles, strike drones and new anti-ballistic missile defense systems capable of intercepting hypersonic targets.
Japan has been regularly increasing defense expenditures in the past few years. In the current fiscal year, these appropriations have grown to 5.37 trillion yen ($39.1 billion at the current exchange rate), the highest figure on record. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has proposed bringing military expenditures to 2% of GDP similar to NATO’s practice, or almost twice as much as now.