With Russia's war on Ukraine setting alarm bells ringing in Japan about an assertive China, the defense budget has become one of the key issues in the House of Councilors election on July 10.

Polls show that the public is split on an increase in defense spending, with a Kyodo News survey conducted from Sunday to Tuesday showing 47.8% of voters think the budget should be expanded to 2% or higher of the gross domestic product as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has suggested, while 45.8% want spending to stay as it is or cut.

But defense experts warn that the government should deepen discussions on how to go about strengthening defense capabilities needed to respond to potential threats instead of making an issue of setting a specific numerical target.