Photo/IllutrationDefense Minister Tomomi Inada speaks during a joint interview. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Two think tanks are calling on the government to further increase defense spending in the face of uncertainties over U.S. security policy in Asia under a Donald Trump presidency.

“U.S. foreign involvement will become more uncertain” after Trump becomes president, the PHP Research Institute Inc. said in a recommendation released on Jan. 18.

The report was compiled by a team of experts headed by retired Gen. Ryoichi Oriki, a former chief of staff of the Joint Staff of the Self-Defense Forces.

The think tank is affiliated with the PHP Institute established by the late Konosuke Matsushita, founder of what is now Panasonic Corp.

During the election campaign, Trump indicated that he would call on Tokyo to shoulder the entire burden of hosting U.S. troops in Japan.

“If the Trump administration calls on Japan to increase its financial burden, an increase in spending should be made for defense rather than covering the expenses associated with basing the U.S. military in Japan,” the report said. “The money should be spent on areas that have received insufficient distribution in the past, such as cyber warfare.”

The Institute for International Policy Studies, chaired by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, also referred to Trump in its recommendations released on Jan. 12.

“For the first time, an individual who has come out strongly in favor of emphasizing U.S. interests has been elected president of the United States, which has held up the liberal international order in the postwar era,” the report, compiled by a team of experts headed by Shinichi Kitaoka, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Tokyo, said.

The report pointed out the ratio of Japan’s defense spending in relation to gross domestic product did not even reach 1 percent, while the standard for member nations of NATO was 2 percent.

“It is doubtful Trump would allow” for such a difference, the report said.

The institute called on the government to pursue a GDP ratio goal of 1.2 percent.

It also proposed other changes to Japan’s defense policy, saying, “A stance should be taken of implementing as much as possible what can be done independently.”

It added that “consideration should be given not only to strengthening missile defense but also acquiring the capability to destroy North Korea’s missile facilities.”

Defense spending has been steadily increasing ever since Shinzo Abe began his second stint as prime minister in December 2012.

The figure exceeded 5 trillion yen ($44 billion) in fiscal 2016, and the budget proposal for fiscal 2017 has been set at a record 5.125 trillion yen.

But in terms of ratio to GDP, those spending figures remain below 1 percent. The ratio for the fiscal 2017 proposal comes to 0.926 percent.

“There is a need to improve the quality and quantity of our own defense,” Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has said.

With her stance as background, there is a strong possibility of further calls for increases in defense spending with Trump taking over in the United States.

However, the 1 percent of GDP ratio has long served as an informal ceiling.

“With social security expenses also increasing rapidly, will it be possible for the government to greatly increase defense spending?” a former high-ranking SDF officer asked. “It will all depend on whether politicians can give a proper explanation to the public.”