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Japanese PM wants boosted defence spending

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says he wants to “drastically strengthen” the country’s defence in the coming years, according to the Kyodo news agency.

His ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had won a clear victory in elections to the upper house of the national parliament the previous day.

Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s growing ambition for power and the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, the party wants to increase the country’s defence budget to 2 per cent or more of gross domestic product (GDP).

Kishida said he would continue the legacy of his predecessor Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated two days before the election.

This includes amending the pacifist post-war constitution, which had been Abe’s political goal in life. He wanted to anchor the existence of the military in the constitution. Although he did not succeed in amending the constitution, he simply had it “reinterpreted” in order to expand the role of the military alongside the current protecting power, the United States.

The camp of supporters of constitutional change – besides the coalition parties also two conservative opposition parties – secured the necessary two-thirds majority in the election to the upper house, which is considered the less powerful of the two houses of parliament.

Abe believed that the constitution did not match Japan’s status as an independent nation, as it had been imposed on Japan in 1946 by the then occupying power, the US.

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