“Japan’s Defense Ministry will request a second boost to its military budget, according to reports, just a day after the government announced the first defense budget increase in 10 years,” the Christian Science Monitor reported last week.
A stimulus package now being prepared for the prime minister’s signature will include a substantial sum — $2.1 billion — for defense. That’s not a huge amount, compared to Japan’s overall defense budget of $53 billion, but it’s a start.
A French press agency explains the increase comes as tensions between Japan and China mount over the Senkaku islands, which are now controlled by Tokyo, but claimed by Beijing. North Korea is also making some worrisome moves, including a satellite launch that Japan contends was actually a ballistic missile test last month.
“Washington has long pressed Japan to assume a greater role in its own defense while adopting overseas security responsibilities commensurate with its military and economic strength,” says the Heritage Foundation’s Bruce Klingner. “It would be beneficial for the U.S. if Japan were to increase its defense spending, enable collective self-defense, adopt less restrictive rules of engagement for forces involved in overseas peacekeeping operations, and press forward on building a replacement U.S. Marine Corps airbase on Okinawa.”
Sen. Rand Paul, speaking in Jerusalem, says foreign aid should be curtailed, especially with the U.S. so deeply in debt.
“Paul, considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate, made his comments Monday at the start of his first trip to the Jewish state — a voyage made by many in the past with presidential aspirations,” CNN reports. “According to the [Jerusalem] Post, the senator said his view may be different if the U.S. didn’t borrow so much money from overseas. ‘To me it has always been about whether it makes sense for me to borrow money from China to give to Pakistan.’”
Last year, Paul made a push to cut off aid to countries that are increasingly hostile to the U.S. interests, including Egypt, Pakistan and Libya.
And currently, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican, is trying to stop the shipment of 20 F-16 fighter jets and 200 Abrams tanks to Egypt.
“Simply put, the U.S. should not be providing military assistance to a regime that supports Hamas and is looking more and more like a dictatorship than a trustworthy democracy,” he says.
These are positive trends — Japan will be no less of an ally, if it contributes more to its own defense, and countries like Egypt will be considerably less troublesome if they have fewer U.S. made weapons.