Terrie's Take Holiday Notice - But... with a Short Note About Defense Spending This Year

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun Aug 21 23:00:00 JST 2016

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term 
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

+++ Holiday Notice, But... a Short Note About Defense Spending This Year.

We're observing the traditional Obon and summer holiday this August and 
Terrie's Take is on vacation for Aug 14 and 21. We'll be back with our 
regular edition next week. But frankly we couldn't resist making a brief 
comment about the news that Japan's defense budget is surging to a record.

In case you've missed the breaking news, a number of foreign media sites 
are trumpeting the fact that Japan is going to pass a record defense 
budget this year, presumably because of the combined threats of China 
and North Korea. Yes, it is true that the budget in JPY will mostly 
likely go up about 2.3% more than last year, but frankly speaking, the 
so-called "record" spending is nothing remarkable among Japan's peers.

This year's budget is likely to be around JPY5.16trn (about US$51bn), 
but depending on the US$/Yen rate on a given month, Japan is still only 
8th globally in money spent on defense, behind the UK, India, and 
France. By another more important measure - military spending as a 
percentage of GDP, Japan is a mere 15th (at 1% of GDP), behind Italy and 
Germany. And as a function of per capita GDP, Japan doesn't even show up 
in the top 15 list...

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While we'd personally prefer Japan to reduce its military budget and use 
the money on adult education, we nonetheless feel that the increase this 
year is not a sign of resurgence of militarism inside the country - at 
least not yet. In fact, the Stockholm International Peace Research 
Institute (SIPRI), one of the best respected sources of global military 
expenditure, states that until last year, adjusted for "2011 dollars", 
Japan's military expenditure has stayed pretty much constant since 2001. 
That's a long time as Steady Eddie.

This SIPRI factoid really puts the nation's latest budget into 
perspective and should be a reminder that we are not yet accelerating 
into an arms race as the media might have you believe. Of course, this 
may change overnight if the Chinese do something provocative in or near 
the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. But for now, there's nothing to see here.

...The information janitors/


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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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