In response to North Korea’s nuclear aspirations, China’s assertive actions in the East and South China Seas, and potential instabilities in the region, Japan is prompted to proactively invest in modernising its air and naval capabilities. As a result, Japan’s defence expenditure increased from $39.5 billion in 2022 to $50 billion in 2023, reflecting an annual growth rate of 26.5%, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
GlobalData’s latest report “Japan Defense Market Size and Trends, Budget Allocation, Regulations, Key Acquisitions, Competitive Landscape and Forecast, 2023-28, reveals that its defence acquisition expenditure is expected to increase steadily, reaching a value of $53.8 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.9% during 2023-28. The increase in the defence budget is attributed to continued investment in significant defence modernisation and procurement plans.
To jumpstart its defence modernisation programs, the Japanese government allocated an additional supplementary budget of $6.3 billion in 2023, over and above the base budget in 2020 and 2021. The additional fund is exclusively earmarked for defence modernisation programs, indicating the government’s commitment to enhancing the capabilities of the country’s armed services.
The surge in defence expenditure over the past years has paved the way for substantial advancements in Japan’s defence capabilities. In terms of investment, military fixed-wing aircraft is anticipated to be the largest sector followed by naval vessels, and missiles and missile defence systems. In December 2018, the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) decided to increase its procurement of F-35 fighter jets from 42 to 147 to bolster its multi-role air capabilities. It is also collaborating with Italy, and the UK to develop a sixth-generation fighter aircraft.
Rouble, Aerospace & Defense Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “In protecting its national security interests and responding quickly to emergencies like natural disasters, Japan’s aerial fleet plays a crucial role. The country has traditionally favored investments in developing a highly competent air-combat wing. For instance, the acquisition of additional F-35B fighter jets will not only strengthen Japan’s deterrence posture but will also contribute towards security in the Indo-Pacific region.”
In addition to making advancements to its Air Force, Japan has also focused on upgrading its naval capabilities. In 2022, the Japanese MoD announced its Defense Buildup Program, with an intent to replace its fleet of older, less competent destroyers and destroyer escorts with more advanced frigates such as the Mogami-class. It also has plans to construct a new class of multi-mission stealth frigates, starting from the fiscal year 2024. The country is also developing a new class of attack submarines, the Taigei-class (29SS) for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Rouble concludes: “Japan is strengthening its surveillance capabilities in its surrounding seas, by investing in research and development (R&D) and procuring advanced naval platforms. Its steadfast efforts to modernise its air and naval capabilities reflect a forward-looking defence strategy aimed at addressing persistent regional challenges. The country’s commitment towards enhancing its defence capabilities and forging partnerships with key allies reinforces its position as a crucial player in maintaining regional security.”