September 23, 2012

The Sept. 21 front-page story describing Japan’s shift to the right overlooked one important point. At the same time Japan’s ideology is becoming more confrontational and hawkish, its defense budget is shrinking.

This month, with China’s military power growing rapidly and with the fires of nationalism burning brightly in both China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Japan requested a fiscal 2013 defense budget that cuts defense spending by almost 2 percent, the largest cut in half a century.

So if Japan’s leaders are getting increasingly concerned about security, why are they cutting defense spending? Simple: They believe that they have a defense commitment from the United States that can serve as their deterrent against China.

So when you hear members of Congress rending their garments about sequestration, remember what they are worried about: the prospect that the transfer payments from American taxpayers to taxpayers in places such as Japan may be trimmed.

Justin Logan, Washington

The writer is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.