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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 January 22 - 28  > Japan-US Security Treaty, fundamental factor for swelling Japan’s military spending
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2020 January 22 - 28 [POLITICS]

Japan-US Security Treaty, fundamental factor for swelling Japan’s military spending

January 22, 2020

Under the government led by Prime Minister Abe who seeks to strengthen the alliance with the U.S., Japan’s military spending has been increasing. In the 2020 draft budget, military expenditure will increase to 5.3 trillion yen, hitting new highs for six straight years. A major cause underlying Japan’s swelling military budget is Article 3 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

This article states, “The Parties, individually and in cooperation with each other, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop, subject to their constitutional provisions, their capacities to resist armed attack.”

The Japanese Foreign Ministry explains that this clause urges Japan to improve its own defense capability. In the background of Article 3 and the ministry’s explanation lies the Vandenberg resolution which was passed in the U.S. Senate in 1948. According to the resolution, in concluding a security arrangement, the U.S. will require its partners to increase their defense capabilities and to join in U.S. military operations.

In March 1954, four months before the creation of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, the governments of Japan and the United States signed an agreement on mutual defense. This agreement stipulates that Japan will increasingly assume responsibility for its own defense, which made Japan’s military expansion obligatory for the first time.

In June 1957, the Japanese government drew up its first defense buildup plan in postwar history in exchange for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps deployed on Japan’s mainland to Okinawa and the removal of the U.S. military’s ground forces from Japan.

With the 1960 revision, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty incorporated the above-mentioned clause and the U.S. government began pushing the Japanese government to increase its share of the cost for hosing U.S. military bases by arguing that Japan’s share is relatively low compared with other U.S. allies. As a result, in the 1990s, Japan became the world’s second-largest military spender following America.

Even now, along with China and India which promote their military buildup, Japan is recognized as one of the major military powers in the world. In the 2019 World Military Strengths Ranking, Japan was ranked at sixth while the U.S. Russia, China, India, and France occupied the top five positions. This ranking is published annually by the U.S. research agency Global Firepower which provides analytical data regarding military strength of 137 countries across the globe.

The late Foreign Ministry bureaucrat Okazaki Hisahiko in 1988 admitted that U.S. pressure caused the swell in Japan’s military expenditure.

Past related article:
> 2020 draft budget sacrifices people’s welfare and livelihoods to fund military buildup [December 21, 2019]
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