Kishida prioritizes arms buildup, reversing low birthrate

TOKYO (AP) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that Japan faces the severest security environment in the region since the end of World War II and pledged to push a

military buildup under a newly adopted security strategy over the next five years and beyond as well as tackle rapidly declining births so the country can sustain national

strength. Kishida’s government in December adopted key security and defense reforms, including a counterstrike capability that makes a break from the country’s exclusively

self-defense-only postwar principle. Japan says the current deployment of missile interceptors is insufficient to defend it from rapid weapons advancement in China and North

Korea. In his policy speech opening this year’s parliamentary session, Kishida said active diplomacy should be prioritized, but it requires "defense power to back it up.” He

said Japan's new security strategy is based on a realistic simulation “as we face the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II and a question if

we can protect the people’s lives in an emergency.” The strategy seeks to keep in check China’s increasingly assertive territorial ambitions, but it's also a sensitive issue

for many countries in Asia that were victims of Japanese wartime aggression. Kishida said it's a “drastic turnaround” of Japan's security policy, but still remains within the

limitations of its pacifist constitution and international law. “I make it clear that there will not be even a slightest change from Japan's non-nuclear and

self-defense-only principles and our footsteps as a peace-loving country," Kishida said.