Japanese Prime Minister Warns Asia Could Be Like Ukraine Soon

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida fears his region could be the next military target of Russia, and perhaps of China and North Korea.

Kishida, who was in Washington, D.C., on Friday to meet with President Joe Biden, told The Washington Post that Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine should send a warning about the growing aggressiveness of dictatorships in Asia.

“Ukraine today may be Asia tomorrow,” Kishida told the Post’s Josh Rogin. “Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are not acceptable.”

Kishida’s concern comes while Japan has been the Asian country most supportive of Ukraine, and with neighbors Russia and China appearing to be on friendly terms.

North Korea, meanwhile, has expanded its military arsenal and advanced its missile capabilities.

Tokyo’s primary worry is a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan. For that reason, Japan’s military has reorganized resources toward the country’s southwest islands, and is focused on preparing the armed forces to fight in a Taiwan-related scenario.

Kishida spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November in Bangkok and stressed that “the peace and stability of Taiwan are also extremely important for the global community.”

Still, Japan is taking steps to prepare for a worst-case situation.

The Post reported that Kishida and Biden are expected discuss plans for Japan to join the United Kingdom as the only U.S. allies to be sold Tomahawk cruise missiles, which offer the ability to strike ground targets.

Tokyo intentionally had avoided acquiring the Tomahawks and their “counterstrike” or “standoff” capability for decades.

Kishida, leader of the more dovish wing of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and other government leaders have concluded that preparing for conflict is the best way to try to avoid it. Thus, Japan is launching its largest military buildup since World War II.

Japan last month rewrote key national security documents. Kishida’s country, for the first time since 1976, no longer will limit its defense spending to 1% of gross domestic product, and is on track to nearly double its defense outlay to 2% of GDP by 2027.

That would make Japan’s military budget the world’s third largest, behind the U.S. and China.

“The global security environment is going through a major change,” Kishida told the Post. “Japan has made a major, huge decision to strengthen our defensive capability. And for that purpose, we also wish to deepen the bilateral cooperation with the United States even further.

“I would like to ask the American people to be more interested and to be engaged in the Indo-Pacific region. And I’m convinced by doing so, that would ensure the peace and prosperity of this region.”

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