Japan’s Defense Ministry seeks record $47.6 billion for FY 2018
Stars and Stripes August 31, 2017
TOKYO, Japan — Japan’s Defense Ministry requested its largest-ever budget Thursday, days after North Korea launched a missile over Japan.
The ministry is seeking 5.26 trillion yen ($47.6 billion) for the 2018 fiscal year. That’s a 2.5 percent increase from last year and the sixth consecutive hike since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012.
The proposal reflects the need for Japan to respond to security challenges such as North Korean missiles and Chinese naval activities in disputed waters, Defense Ministry officials said.
North Korea has conducted 13 missile tests this year alone, and on Tuesday launched a ballistic missile that flew over Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific.
The budget proposal includes funding for a new system to respond to North Korean missiles.
“Based on North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments reaching a new level of threat [the ministry] will initiate equipping with a new asset,” the budget proposal states.
Ministry officials said the Aegis Ashore missile-defense system is being considered and that Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera talked to U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis about it during their meeting in Washington this month.
A decision on which missile-defense system to acquire and how much money will be allocated for it will be made by year’s end, officials said.
This budget request includes 10.7 billion yen ($97 million) to upgrade the Japan Aerospace Defense Ground Environment system to respond to ballistic missiles with lofted trajectory or any attack that is hard to foresee.
To respond to increased Chinese navy activities in the East China Sea, the ministry seeks 96.4 billion yen ($872 million) to build two escort ships and 71.5 billion yen ($647 million) to build a submarine with upgraded monitoring capabilities.
It proposes 19.6 billion yen ($177 million) to develop a new radar to detect stealth aircraft and ballistic missiles.
Although the cost of acquiring RQ-4B Global Hawks has increased 23 percent over the years and there has been talk of scrapping a plan to buy the unmanned surveillance planes, the ministry has asked for 14.4 billion yen ($130 million) to acquire one Global Hawk.
It also wants 88.1 billion yen ($797 million) for six F-35A stealth fighter jets. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force plans to move a unit from a JASDF base in the Kanto area to a base in Misawa to create a new 200-man fighter squadron operating 10 F-35As by March 2019, ministry officials said.