Japan’s military seek eighth straight annual hike in defense spending
After the recent missile test by North Korea, the Japanese military has asked for an eighth straight annual increase in defence spending to help pay for interceptor missiles, stealth fighters, and other equipment made by the United States.
The Ministry of Defence budget proposal released today (August 30) calls for spending to increase 1.2 percent to a record 5.32 trillion yen ($50.48 billion) in the year starting April 1. Finance ministry officials will further scrutinize the request before it is approved by Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet.
Having one of the world’s biggest military budget despite a constitution check which forbids to possess the weapons to attack other countries, Tokyo has increased military spendings by a tenth over the past seven years. That growth is being driven by alarm over military build-ups by its eastern neighbours, China and North Korea.
Japan’s spending, much of it on advanced weapons from the United States, has benefited the big defence players likes of Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co, and worried Japanese contractors such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries who have seen their share of defence spending shrink.
President Trump has thanked Japan for buying the expensive U.S. made equipment, helping curtail criticism of Japan amid trade tensions between Washington and Tokyo.
For the next fiscal year, Japan’s defence officials have asked for 115.6 billion yen ($1.8 Billion) to buy nine Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, including for the first time six short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants that it wants to operate from 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 defence ministry also wants 116.3 billion ($1.82 Billion) yen to bolster ballistic missile defences (BMD), including money for a new generation of interceptor missiles designed by Raytheon Co, 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.
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