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日元“难以承受之低”:日本军费怎么办?

RIVER AKIRA DAVIS, HISAKO UENO

2024年7月9日

日本首相岸田文雄去年在一个军事基地。两年前,他宣布了一项新的国家安全战略,将国防经费增加一倍以上。 Franck Robichon/EPA, via Shutterstock

The yen’s collapse this year to a nearly four-decade low is undermining Japan’s plans for its largest military buildup in postwar history.

日元汇率今年跌至近40年来的最低点,而这正在危及日本战后规模最大的军备计划

The government has slashed orders for aircraft, and officials warn that further cuts may be imminent. Japan buys much of its military equipment from American companies, in transactions done in dollars. The government’s purchasing power has been drastically eroded by the yen’s diminishing value.

政府已经大幅削减了飞机订单,官员们警告说,可能很快要进行更多的削减。日本从美国公司购买大量军事装备,交易都以美元结算。由于日元的贬值,政府的购买力受到了极大的削弱。

“What we are achieving in terms of actual defense capabilities and our original target — the two are not lined up,” Satoshi Morimoto, a former Japanese defense minister, said in an interview. The value of the defense budget over five years “has effectively been reduced by 30 percent,” Mr. Morimoto said.

日本前防卫大臣森本敏在采访中表示:“我们在防御能力上实际取得的成就和我们最初的目标并不一致。”森本敏说,五年国防预算的价值“实际上减少了30%”。

Japan’s currency headache comes at a critical juncture. The country’s large boost in military spending was intended to fortify defenses as Tokyo confronts mounting missile threats from North Korea and other challenges posed by China, including fears of a potential China-Taiwan conflict.

日本的汇率困境恰逢一个关键时刻。日本大幅增加军费开支的目的是为了加强防御,目前东京正面临来自朝鲜日益加剧的导弹威胁,以及中国带来的其他挑战,其中包括对中国与台湾可能发生冲突的担忧。

In 2022, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan announced a new national security strategy that would more than double the amount set aside for defense. The budget of 43 trillion yen over five years, equivalent to around $319 billion at the time, would help Japan deter attacks by giving it the ability to target bases in enemy territory.

2022年,日本首相岸田文雄宣布新的国家安全战略,将国防预算增加一倍以上。五年43万亿日元(当时约合3190亿美元)的预算,将使日本有能力瞄准敌方领土上的基地,从而帮助日本遏制攻击。

The new budget broke with longstanding precedent on spending restraints and dependence on U.S. forces. Mr. Kishida hailed the surge in military spending as a “turning point” in Japan’s history.

新预算打破了长期以来限制开支和依赖美军的一贯做法。岸田称赞军事开支的激增是日本历史上的“转折点”。

08japan defense 03 gpmk master10505 月,日本坦克进行实弹演习。大规模军备计划打破了长期以来限制开支和依赖美军的一贯做法。

The problem: The budget was based on an exchange rate of 108 yen to the dollar, which even then was far from the actual rate of around 135 yen to the dollar. Now, with the yen weakening to 161 to the dollar, the cost of equipment including helicopters, submarines and tanks has skyrocketed.

问题是,该预算以一美元兑108日元的汇率为基础,即使在当时,这一汇率也远低于一美元兑135日元左右的实际汇率。现在,随着日元对美元的汇率跌至161日元,包括直升机、潜艇和坦克在内的装备成本急剧上升。

Historically, a weak yen helped Japan’s big exporters like Toyota Motor by making their products cheaper and more competitive overseas. But it makes imports more expensive. The government’s struggle to afford military equipment is one example of how those higher costs are squeezing Japan’s economy. The slide in the yen’s value over the past three years has raised the price of staples like food and fuel and weighed on household spending.

从历史上看,日元疲软有助于丰田汽车等日本大型出口商,使其产品更便宜,在海外更具竞争力。但这使得进口商品更加昂贵。日本政府难以负担军事装备,就是成本上升挤压日本经济的一个例子。过去三年,日元贬值推高了食品和燃料等主要商品的价格,并拖累了家庭支出。

Recently, the Bank of Japan, the central bank, has become more concerned about the yen’s impact on import prices. Many market analysts and traders expect the bank to raise interest rates this year, possibly as soon as this month. Higher interest rates draw more investors to Japanese assets, increasing demand for the yen and propping up the currency’s value.

最近,日本央行越来越担心日元对进口价格的影响。许多市场分析人士和交易员预计,日本央行将在今年提高利率,最快可能在本月。更高的利率会吸引更多的投资者购买日本资产,增加对日元的需求,并支撑日元的价值。

“I am seriously concerned about this defense-budget issue, and especially the effect that the weak yen will have on dealing with North Korean and potential Chinese threats,” said Maiko Takeuchi, a consulting fellow at Japan’s Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry.

“我非常担心国防预算问题,尤其是弱势日元对于应对朝鲜和中国潜在威胁产生的影响,”日本经济产业研究所的咨询研究员竹内舞子说。

Several technologies central to Japan’s ability to conduct counter strikes — including U.S.-made Tomahawk missiles — have surged in price because of the weakened yen, according to Ms. Takeuchi, who previously worked in a government agency that oversaw military purchases.

竹内舞子曾在一家负责监督军事采购的政府机构工作,她说,由于日元贬值,对日本反击能力至关重要的几项技术——包括美国制造的战斧导弹——价格飙升。

08japan defense 01 gpmk master1050西奥多·罗斯福号航空母舰参加美国、日本和韩国上个月在东海举行的海空演习。

“At this point, even Japan-made military equipment is going up in price because many internal parts are sourced from overseas,” Ms. Takeuchi said. “Japan is already cutting procurement of certain aircraft, and if you can’t increase the budget, more cuts become inevitable,” she added.

“目前,即使是日本制造的军事装备也在涨价,因为许多内部零件都是从海外采购的,”竹内舞子说。“日本已经在削减某些飞机的采购,如果不能增加预算,更多的削减将不可避免,”她还说。

When it was first announced, Japan’s five-year military budget was seen by security experts as a powerful statement: The officially pacifist country was demonstrating its resolve to the United States and other allies rattled by China’s recent military buildup and other territorial threats.

日本的五年军事预算最初公布时,被安全专家视为一个强有力的声明:这个官方奉行和平主义的国家,向美国和其他因中国近期军力增强和其他领土威胁而感到不安的盟国展示了自己的决心。

As China builds closer economic and military ties with Russia, other Asia-Pacific nations have also been increasing their military budgets. For Japan, the budget drawn up two years ago would put defense spending at about 2 percent of the country’s economic output in 2027, aligning with a target laid out by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

随着中国与俄罗斯建立更紧密的经济和军事联系,其他亚太国家也在增加军事预算。对日本来说,两年前制定的预算将使国防开支在2027年达到该国经济产出的2%左右,与北约设定的目标一致。

“Japan’s defense plan was a bold statement,” said Jonathan Grady, founding principal of the advisory firm Canary Group, who has counseled the Japanese government on strategies related to funding defense spending. “The challenge now lies in honoring that commitment,” he said. “Japan risks credibility right now if it can’t do it.”

“日本的国防计划是一个大胆的声明,”咨询公司金丝雀集团的创始负责人乔纳森·格雷迪说,他曾就与国防开支融资相关的战略向日本政府提供咨询。“现在的挑战在于履行这一承诺,”他说。“如果做不到,日本现在就会面临信誉风险。”

Mr. Kishida faces limited options for funding a bigger defense budget. Japan’s public debt is more than twice the size of its economic output, and tax increases have historically been both unpopular and damaging to its economy.

要为扩大国防预算提供资金,岸田的选项不多。日本的公共债务是其经济产出的两倍多,而增税历来不受欢迎,又对经济有害

08japan defense 04 gpmk master1050冲绳美国空军基地的F-22战斗机。日本首相将于本周出席北约峰会,会议将重点讨论加强印太地区的联盟防御问题。

Funding for the defense budget was tied in 2022 to vague plans to raise taxes at “an appropriate time in or after 2024,” according to cabinet office documents. That tax increase has already been punted beyond this year, and any further increases would probably be a hard sell for Mr. Kishida, who is already reckoning with record low approval ratings.

根据内阁办公室的文件,2022年国防预算的资金与在“2024年或之后的适当时间”提高税收的模糊计划挂钩。增税计划已经推迟到今年以后,对岸田来说,任何进一步的增税都可能是一个艰难的决定,因为他的支持率已创新低。

This week, Mr. Kishida is set to attend a NATO meeting in Washington marking 75 years since the alliance’s founding. NATO officials have said the summit will focus on boosting allied defense and strengthening partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.

本周,岸田将出席在华盛顿举行的纪念北约成立75周年的会议。北约官员表示,峰会将重点讨论加强联合防御和加强印太地区的伙伴关系。

“If you can’t raise taxes and can’t increase debt, you’re stuck with very few options beyond pursuing deeper multilateral coordination,” Mr. Grady said, referring to Japan’s collaboration with the United States, Australia and other allies on initiatives like joint maritime exercises and trainings.

“如果不能增税,也不能增加债务,那么除了寻求更深层次的多边协调之外,你的选择寥寥无几,”格雷迪说。他指的是日本与美国、澳大利亚和其他盟国在联合海上演习和训练等倡议上的合作。

On Monday, Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement that would boost their ability to perform joint military exercises. That came after the United States, Japan and South Korea held three-day joint air and naval drills late last month in the East China Sea. The exercise, called “Freedom Edge,” was intended to boost readiness against North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.

周一,日本和菲律宾签署了一项协议,将提高两国进行联合军事演习的能力。此前,美国、日本和韩国于上月底在东海举行了为期三天的联合海空演习。这次名为“自由之刃”的演习旨在加强应对朝鲜导弹和核威胁的准备。

North Korea responded to the drills by launching two ballistic missiles last week. It vowed an “overwhelming” response to what state media described as a relationship among Japan, the United States and South Korea that was beginning to resemble “the Asia version of NATO.”

朝鲜上周发射了两枚弹道导弹作为对该军演的回应。朝鲜官方媒体称,日本、美国和韩国之间的关系开始类似于“亚洲版的北约”,朝鲜誓言要对这种关系做出“压倒性”的回应。

Mr. Morimoto, the former defense minister, said he was considering how Japan could bear current financial constraints while keeping its military buildup intact.

前防卫大臣森本敏说,他正在考虑日本如何能在不影响军备的情况下应对当前的财政紧张问题。

08japan defense 05 gpmk master10502012 年,时任防卫大臣的森本敏。他现在是今年成立的一个专家小组的成员,该小组负责就日本的军事战略提供建议。

Mr. Morimoto, 83, who served in Japan’s self-defense force for 14 years, is a member of a panel of experts set up this year to advise on Japan’s defense strategies. The group convened in February and will continue meeting through the end of the year, when it will need to decide what to recommend for next year’s defense budget.

现年83岁的森本曾在日本自卫队服役14年,是今年成立的一个专家小组的成员,该小组旨在为日本的防务战略提供建议。它于2月召开会议,并将在今年年底前继续开会,届时需要决定为明年的国防预算提出哪些建议。

Mr. Morimoto said the lesson learned by Japan from recent currency fluctuations was that military spending could no longer be fixed to a precise number. Rather, he said, the focus needs to be on building military capabilities in terms of substance.

森本说,日本从最近的汇率波动中吸取的教训是,军费开支不能再固定在一个精确的数字上。相反,他说,重点应该放在建设实质性的军事能力上。

With regard to currency fluctuations, “no one expected such a big change in just three years, and I have no doubt there will be more unexpected things to come,” Mr. Morimoto said. “But if this and that are postponed, this and that are delayed, our defense — Japan’s defense — will not be complete.”

在汇率波动方面,“没有人预料到在短短三年内会发生如此大的变化,我毫不怀疑会有更多意想不到的事情发生,”森本说。但是如果这也被推迟,那也被推迟,我们的防卫——日本的防卫——就无法完备起来。”

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