Japan Japan weighs providing foreign aid for military-linked projects

Isa Khan

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TOKYO -- Japan will consider broadening its foreign aid program for developing countries to cover projects such as military-use facilities and coastal radar systems, moving away from a strictly nonmilitary approach as it vies with China for influence.

Tokyo plans to create a new category for security assistance, expanding its diplomatic options in light of the increasingly challenging security environment. The change comes as Japan makes a wider policy shift, including a sharp increase in defense spending and the relaxation of stringent limits on arms exports.

Development aid under the new category will go toward militaries of countries that Tokyo considers friendly and which cooperation is seen as significant for Japan's security. Potential projects include construction and maintenance of military hospitals or military-civilian airports and seaports.

Japan's draft budget for fiscal 2023 includes 2 billion yen ($15 million) for this purpose. The first project will be put together next year, with funding set to increase over the next several years.

The country's Official Development Assistance (ODA) program -- one of the world's largest -- has long been limited to civilian infrastructure, excluding any military-involved projects.

This has left room for China to provide such aid through its Belt and Road Initiative to countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere that need updated military facilities, expanding Beijing's influence in the process.

Japan also intends to supply equipment that contributes to peace and security based on the rule of law. This would include radars and data analysis systems to help countries monitor their waters and airspace, as well as armored vehicles for anti-terrorism operations.

Sales of equipment for United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian activities such as disaster relief also will be permitted.

Recipients will be required to take steps that ensure this gear is not used in international conflicts or otherwise beyond its stated purpose. Any transfers to third countries would need approval by Japan.

The policy shift fits with Japan's recently revised National Security Strategy, which emphasizes using diplomacy to "prevent crises" and "create a stable international environment."

The government plans to boost nonmilitary development assistance as well. The Foreign Ministry will revise its ODA guidelines in the first half of 2023, calling for aid to reach the international target of 0.7% of gross national income.

Japan was the world's top provider of such development assistance in the 1990s. It ranked third in 2021, behind the U.S. and Germany.

In addition to the expanded development aid, Japan plans to loosen restrictions on arms exports after local elections in April. Combining the two could open up a wide range of options for providing defense support to emerging economies.


Roman Empire Restorist

I think Japan should provide low threat weapons such as the type 92 MANPADS or the Type 73 tracked APC and gouge the effectivness of them in battle and learn and improve on the later variants they plan to manafacture

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