Japan defense ministry report sounds alarm on Russia, threats to Taiwan

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Japan’s defense ministry said Friday it was alarmed at fresh threats from Russia and had growing worries about Taiwan, in an annual report that comes as Tokyo weighs significantly increasing military spending.

The document includes a chapter on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which it says risks sending the message “that an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force is acceptable.”

The paper surveys the global security landscape and specific threats to Japan, and says there was concern Russia could “further enhance and deepen relationships with China.”

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It also warns Moscow may increasingly lean on its nuclear capacity as a deterrent, which could in turn mean an uptick in activity around Japan, where Russian nuclear submarines are routinely active.

Japan has backed sanctions led by the United States and the European Union against Moscow, and has seen increased Russian military activity around its territory.

In May, Chinese and Russian military jets carried out joint flights near Japan immediately after a meeting of the US-led Quad grouping in Tokyo.

The defense paper also devotes significant space to Taiwan.

It includes the most detailed overview yet of the security situation in the island and notes “since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan has been working on further strengthening its self-defense efforts.”

This year’s paper was released amid growing expectations that Japan will significantly boost defense spending.

While the defense budget has been rising for years, Japan still has the lowest ratio of military expenditure to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among Group of Seven countries.

Kishida has publicly backed boosting spending, and his ruling party has a long-term goal of a defense budget equal to two percent of GDP, though experts say it may be difficult to reach that figure quickly.

Japan’s military is not officially recognized under the country’s post-war constitution and spending is limited to funding nominally defensive capabilities.

The report continues to describe China as a “strong security concern,” adding that the risk posed by Beijing “is intensifying in recent years.”

It similarly repeats that North Korea poses continued “grave and imminent threats,” which it said were also “intensifying.”

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