Japan will begin offering aid to the militaries of “like-minded countries” under new rules announced Wednesday, as Tokyo builds a more proactive defence strategy to address growing regional threats.
The new framework will be separate from other types of aid offered by Japan, and will specifically target “enhancing the security and deterrence capabilities of like-minded countries”, the government said.
The move is part of a broader shift in Japan, which last year unveiled a major security overhaul including a pledge to raise defence spending to two percent of GDP by 2027, while labelling China its “greatest strategic challenge ever”.
Still, Japan’s post-war constitution limits its military to ostensibly defensive measures and equipment, and the new framework says military support will be restricted to areas “not directly relating to any international conflict”.
The government has yet to name possible beneficiaries of the revised rules, but local media have reported that the Philippines and Malaysia are candidates.
Assistance could go towards areas including monitoring and surveillance in territorial waters and airspace, counter-terrorism, and counter-piracy, according to the cabinet office.
Kyodo news agency said the Japanese government has designated two billion yen ($15 million) for spending on aid for foreign militaries and foreign defence until March 2024.