Japan’s government has announced its tiny army will be scrapping a third of its tanks and artillery, whilst requesting a billion dollars to deploy Patriot anti-ballistic missiles “nationwide,” despite the fact that the system only has a range of 20km.
The newly announced National Defence Program Outline stipulates a reduction in the number of Japan’s tanks from about 600 to 400 and a reduction in its artillery pieces from around 600 to 400.
The cuts will however be accompanied by expansion in other areas – most notably the “nationwide deployment” of Patriot “PAC-3″ anti-ballistic missile systems at a cost of 1.1 billion dollars, which have so far only deployed batteries in the Kanto, Kinki, Kyushu and Chubu regions.
Japan’s navy will also be upgraded – 2 of its AEGIS cruisers will be upgraded to be able to shoot down ballistic missiles, in addition to the 4 it has which are already capable of this. In addition, Japan intends to increase the size of its submarine fleet from 16 to 22.
Coming not long after China’s efforts to grab the Senkaku islands amidst an ongoing military buildup, North Korea’s shelling of South Korea and nuclear missile program, and Russia’s efforts to legitimise its occupation of the Northern Territories, concerns have been expressed that as a nation surrounded by aggressive dictatorships Japan is hardly in a position to be stripping its already outgunned and outdated army of what few weapons it has.
Japan does however have a large and extremely modern navy – presumably defence planners reason that with finite resources they are best off ensuring nobody is ever in a position to set foot on Japanese soil and fight its pathetic army. An army is also much easier to expand than a navy.
The “nationwide deployment” of the PAC-3 system has already been derided as little more than propaganda – the system only has a range of 20km (a fact strangely missing from media reports on the announcement), and some question its effectiveness altogether.
The expense of defending all Japanese cities, let alone the entire nation, with such a system would be vast – nuclear deterrence still appears to be the only viable strategy for countering such a threat.