North Korea on Tuesday vowed to take a “resolute and decisive military step” against what it calls Japan’s “dangerous choice” to adopt a new national security strategy outlining plans for its military buildup.
North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Japan’s national security strategy formalized a “new line of aggression” that will change the security environment in East Asia, state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
It claimed that Japan’s push to acquire counterstrike capability had nothing to do with self-defense but was an attempt to possess “preemptive attack capability” to launch strikes on the territory of other nations.
North Korea also accused the United States of “instigating” Japan’s rearmament, saying that the United States had no right to stop North Korea from bolstering its self-defense capability.
The North Korean military has fired over 60 missiles this year, including ballistic missiles that flew over Japan in October. South Korea and Japan said on Dec. 18 that North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea, which flew about 500 kilometers (311 miles).
North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration said Monday that it conducted an “important final-stage test” for the development of its spy satellite, but did not specify if it was the same test that Japan and South Korea had detected.
Japan’s Military Buildup
Japan’s sweeping five-year plan will make the country the world’s third-biggest military spender after the United States and China.
The move is widely seen as a departure from Japan’s post-war constitution, which renounces war or the use of force in settling international disputes.
The government also aims to stockpile spare parts and other munitions, expand transport capacity, and develop cyber warfare capabilities.
A separate national security strategy document that pointed to China, Russia, and North Korea promised close cooperation with the United States and other like-minded nations to deter threats to the established international order.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan would uphold its post-war peace-loving stance and exclusively defense-oriented policy, which states that defensive force could only be used in the event of an attack.
“We have written in detail the counterattack capabilities that we have decided to possess, including their definition and the circumstances under which they can be used, in the National Security Strategy,” he said.
Kishida’s plan will double defense outlays to about 2 percent of gross domestic product over five years, blowing past a self-imposed 1 percent spending limit that has been in place since 1976.
That increase will provide work to Japanese military equipment makers such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is expected to lead the development of three of the longer-range missiles that will be part of Japan’s new missile force.
Other items on Japan’s military spending list over the next five years include interceptor missiles for ballistic missile defense, attack and reconnaissance drones, satellite communications equipment, Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, helicopters, submarines, warships, and heavy-lift transport jets.
To pay for that equipment, Kishida’s ruling bloc said it would raise tobacco, corporate, and disaster-reconstruction income taxes. But, with opposition to tax increases within his ruling Liberal Democratic party still strong, the Japanese leader has yet to say when he will implement those higher rates.
Reuters contributed to this report.