Japan has approved its biggest military buildup since the second world war, warning that China poses the “greatest strategic challenge ever” and outlining plans to develop a counterstrike capability funded by record defense spending.

Iran PressAsia: The plans, announced by the government on Friday, reflect growing alarm over North Korea's improvement of its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

But the changes have also triggered criticism that Japan is abandoning more than seven decades of pacifism under its postwar constitution.

Japan aims to double defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) over the next five years, in a departure from its postwar commitment to keep spending at 1% of GDP.

The increase would bring it into line with Nato countries and make it the world’s third-biggest spender on defense after the US and China.

Under the changes outlined in three documents, Japan will also acquire new weapons that can strike enemy targets 1,000km away with land or sea-launched missiles, a move some believe violates its war-renouncing constitution.

Article 9 of the constitution, drawn up by US occupation forces after the second world war, renounces war and forbids Japan from using force to settle international disputes. Its military, known as the self-defense forces, is limited to a strictly defensive role. 


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