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Japan's opposition parties struggle to dispute defense buildup

Ruling LDP's own ex-PM Fukuda becomes key critic, urges coexistence with China

Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning IIs and multiple U.S. planes taxi into position during an "elephant walk" at Misawa Air Base in Aomori, Japan, in May 2022.   © U.S. Navy

TOKYO -- As Japan beefs up its defense capabilities, opposition parties are finding it difficult to challenge the buildup itself, limiting their grievances to procedural issues such as funding and accountability. Raising taxes is unacceptable, say many, while others note that it is not clear what the expanded defense budget will be used for.

But few have protested the need to significantly boost defense spending in a neighborhood that includes China, Russia and North Korea. The hesitation stems from poll numbers that show a majority of the public wants to bolster deterrence.

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