Japan, eyeing military build-up, hosts Israeli defence chief

By Thomson Reuters Aug 30, 2022 | 8:20 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) – Israel predicted increased defence exports to Japan on Tuesday as the Asian economic powerhouse signals intent to boost military spending amid more assertive Chinese conduct in the region.

Tokyo has been reviewing post-World War Two caps on its armed forces budget amid growing concern Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will embolden China to threaten neighbouring self-ruled Taiwan, an island it claims as its own.

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party wants to double defence spending to 2% of GDP, which would make Japan’s military budget the world’s third-biggest.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz noted the shift in Japanese policy as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Tokyo with the signing of a bilateral defence cooperation memorandum.

“There will be real-world ramifications to this, both on the military level and in research and development, and also on the level of defence industries down the line,” he told reporters.

Gantz did not elaborate. Israeli defence attache Alon Yehoshua said Japan had voiced special interest in cooperating on cyber technologies.

In a separate briefing, a Japanese defence ministry official said Gantz and his hosts had “agreed to continue looking at ways that the two countries can cooperate in defence” but that they had not discussed any specific projects or procurement deals.

Israeli defence exports reached a record $11.3 billion in 2021, according to the Times of Israel news site. This made Israel the world’s 10th-biggest defence exporter, the site reported, citing findings by a Swedish monitoring group.

(Writing by Dan Williams and Timothy Kelly; Editing by Nick Macfie)