TT-Holiday Notice -- But... with a Short Note About Defense Spending This Year

An Insider's comments on Japan's high tech business world
* * * * * * * * 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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