TOKYO -- Japanese prime minister candidate Sanae Takaichi said Friday she was willing to roughly double the nation's defense spending to match the level of many Western nations.
"If we were to bring [the spending] in line with the West, it would be 2% of the GDP, or around 10 trillion yen ($91 billion)," Takaichi told reporters inside the parliament building.
Japan's Ministry of Defense has requested spending in excess of 5.4 trillion yen for the fiscal year starting April 2022. The government has long maintained a ceiling on defense spending to 1% of the gross domestic product.
"Unless we decisively spend money where it is needed, we will not be able to protect Japan," said Takaichi.
The one-time internal affairs minister launched her bid Wednesday to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party after securing support from Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister. She would be the first woman to serve as Japan's prime minister if she prevails.
Takaichi on Friday also touched on the long-running debate over whether Japan should develop capabilities to strike enemy bases. Discussions have been ongoing since Abe was in power.
"The focus should be on how quickly we can neutralize enemy bases," said Takaichi. Japan should implement legislation that would empower the country to neutralize enemy bases with electromagnetic waves and satellites, Takaichi added.
The defense ministry's budget request raises this fiscal year's initial budget spending by 2.6%. The amount would be 0.97% of fiscal 2022's GDP based on the nominal projection released by the Cabinet Office in July.