WASHINGTON DC — For the second year in a row, the world is spending a little less on the military. Asia, however, has failed to get the memo. The region is spending more at a time when many others are spending less.
Last year, Asia saw a 3.6 percent increase in military spending, according to figures just released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The region — which includes East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and Oceania — posted topping off a 62 percent increase over the last decade.
In 2012, for the first time Asia outpaced Europe in its military spending. That year, the world’s top five importers of armaments all came from Asia: India, China, Pakistan, South Korea, and (incredibly) the city-state of Singapore.
China is responsible for the lion’s share of the increases in East Asia, having increased its spending by 170 percent over the last decade. It has also announced a 12.2 percent increase for 2014.
But China is not the only driver of regional military spending. South Asia — specifically the confrontation between India and Pakistan — is responsible for a large chunk of the military spending in the region. Rival territorial claims over tiny islands — and the vast resources that lie beneath and around them — in both Northeast and Southeast Asia are pushing the claimants to boost their maritime capabilities.
Even Japan, which has traditionally kept its military spending to under one percent of GDP, is getting into the act. Tokyo has promised of a 2.8 percent increase in 2014-15.