BEIJING --- The House of Representatives of Japanese Diet February 27 passed the government budget of 2017 fiscal year that amounted for 97.4547 trillion Japanese Yen.
In the budget, the defense budget has increased for five consecutive years to reach the record 5.1251 trillion Japanese Yen, an increase of 71 billion yen or 1.4% from the defense budget in 2016 fiscal year. Japan's continuously rising defense budget has at least three secrets.
First, by means of "supplementary budget" and other approaches, Japan's actual annual defense expenditure is far more than the number stated in the annual government budget.
One month before the Japanese House of Representatives passed the budget of 2017 fiscal year, the Japanese Diet January 31 passed the third supplementary budget of 2016, including 170.6 billion Japanese Yen of defense expenditure.
Since most of the third supplementary budget will be executed in 2017, Japan's actual defense expenditure this year will be 5.2957 trillion Japanese Yen, a 12% increase from the 4.7138 trillion in 2012 fiscal year before Shinzo Abe took office.
Increasing defense expenditure through "supplementary budget" has become an old trick of the Abe government.
For instance, the Japanese government passed the second supplementary budget of 2016 in August last year, including an additional defense budget of 46.1 billion Japanese Yen that was mainly used to improve the Japan Self-defense Forces' early warning, monitoring, transportation and missile defense capability.
This approach, on one hand, was to deceive the public by artificially reducing the "sum" of Japan's military budget and avoid opposition at home and attention overseas. On the other hand, it was because the current "Mid-Term Defense Program" (2014-2018 fiscal year) set a cap of about 24.7 trillion Japanese Yen on the five-year defense budget, according to which Japan's average annual defense budget should not be increased by 0.8%.
But given the expansion of Japan's defense budget in recent years, it is bound to exceed the cap in 2018 fiscal year. Japanese media recently reported that to meet new needs, the Japanese government is considering revising the 2013 edition of defense program guidelines and will set up a special organ in the Defense Ministry this June to officially start the revision. At that time, a new mid-term defense program will be formulated based on the new guidelines.
Some Japanese think tanks are building up the momentum for revising the defense program guidelines ahead of time and increasing the defense budget significantly. The World Peace Institute headed by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone released a report in January this year, which suggested the Abe administration revise the national security strategy and defense program guidelines formulated in 2013 ahead of time, and raise the defense expenditure from the current less than 1% of GDP to more than 1.2%.
The second secret is catering to the new security bills that are commonly known as the "war bills", emphasizing capacity building for "island attack and defense", and increasing military purchase for "overseas operations".
The defense budget of 2017 fiscal year, for example, includes large-sum purchase projects. Japan plans to buy six F-35 aircraft (88 billion Japanese Yen), four Osprey transporters (39.1 billion Japanese Yen), new-type submarines (72.8 billion Japanese Yen), three C-2 transporters (55.2 billion Japanese Yen), 33 amphibious combat vehicles (23.3 billion Japanese Yen) and Global Hawk UAV (16.8 billion Japanese Yen).
The third secret is "sucking up to" the US through military purchase.
American military manufacturers benefit the most from Japan's large-scale military purchase. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a Diet hearing in February that the country will conform to Trump's policy on "buying American goods" and "hiring American workers", including buying American arms and ammunitions.
The new defense budget indicates that Japan is taking faster steps in fortifying the anti-missile system, and American arms dealers are direct beneficiaries too.
According to the outline of the third supplementary budget of 2016 fiscal year released by the Defense Ministry in February, the supplement will be used to introduce upgraded Patriot anti-missile system PAC-3 MSE, upgrade Aegis destroyers' anti-missile capability, and carry out researches on future anti-missile systems.
Japanese media revealed that the researches will focus on the feasibility of introducing the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system, which, they quoted a defense official, will cost hundreds of billions of Japanese Yen.