JAPAN: Military seeks eighth straight spending hike

JAPAN: Military seeks eighth straight spending hike

Japan’s military has asked for an eighth consecutive annual increase in defense spending to help pay for U.S.-made interceptor missiles, stealth fighters and other equipment to counter threats from North Korea and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The Ministry of Defense budget proposal released in late August 2019 calls for spending to increase 1.2% to a record 5.32 trillion yen (U.S. $50.48 billion) for the year starting April 1, 2020. Finance Ministry officials will scrutinize the request before it is approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet.

Already one of the world’s biggest military spenders despite a Constitution that forbids the possession of weapons to attack other countries, Japan has increased military outlays by 10% over the past seven years. That growth is being driven by alarm over military buildups by its neighbors.

For the next fiscal year beginning in April 2020, Japan’s defense officials have asked for 115.6 billion yen to buy nine Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, including for the first time six short takeoff and vertical landing B variants for use on aircraft carriers. That purchase will help Japan project military power by extending the range at which the country’s Self-Defense Forces can operate.

The Defense Ministry also wants 116.3 billion yen to bolster ballistic missile defenses, including money for a new generation of interceptor missiles to shoot down incoming warheads in space. It also wants funds for vertical launch systems for ships and two planned ground-based Aegis Ashore radar missile tracking stations.  Reuters