Japan Seeks Extra Defense Budget 11/26 06:07
Japan's Cabinet on Friday approved a 770 billion yen ($6.8 billion) request
for an extra defense budget through March to expedite the purchase of missiles,
anti-submarine rockets and other weapons amid rising concern over the
escalation of military activities by China, Russia and North Korea.
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's Cabinet on Friday approved a 770 billion yen ($6.8
billion) request for an extra defense budget through March to expedite the
purchase of missiles, anti-submarine rockets and other weapons amid rising
concern over the escalation of military activities by China, Russia and North
The request, still pending parliamentary approval, brings Japan's military
spending for the current year to a new high of more than 6.1 trillion yen
($53.2 billion), up 15% from 5.31 trillion yen in 2020.
The Defense Ministry says its "defense power reinforcement and acceleration
package" is designed to speed up deployment of some of the key equipment from
the 2022 budget request. The goal is to beef up Japan's defenses against North
Korea's missile threat and China's increasingly assertive maritime activity
around remote Japanese southwestern islands, officials said.
Japan has also raised concerns over recent joint military activities by
China and Russia near its waters and airspace.
A fleet of two Chinese H-6 fighters and two Russian Tu-95s flew from the Sea
of Japan to the East China Sea and to the Pacific Ocean, triggering Japanese
Self-Defense Force jets to scramble, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Tuesday.
The budget request includes nearly 100 billion yen ($870 million) for the
advanced version of PAC-3 mobile surface-to-air missile interceptors and
related equipment, as well as cruise missiles.
Separately, more than 800 billion yen ($7 billion) will go to speed up the
purchase of reconnaissance planes and equipment, including three P-1s,
equipment for P-3Cs and vertical launch systems to be placed on two destroyers,
to step up surveillance around Japan's territorial waters and airspace.
Japan has been stepping up defenses in its southwestern regions and islands,
including Ishigaki Island, where a new military base with a land-to-sea missile
defense system will be operational. Ishigaki is north of the uninhabited
Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China, which
calls them Diaoyu.
Tokyo regularly protests the Chinese coast guard's presence near Senkaku
The ministry also plans to build housing for ground troops on Ishigaki
The combined budget for 2021 will be just over 1% of Japan's GDP, keeping
its customary cap. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he is open to doubling
Japan's military spending to cope with the worsening security environment.
The defense budget also aims to ease burden on Japanese defense equipment
and parts suppliers that are struggling to maintain the country's dwindling
industry, officials said.
The defense budget is part of a nearly 36 trillion yen ($316 billion) draft
extra budget approved by the Cabinet Friday to fund an economic stimulus
package focusing on COVID-19 preparedness and support for the pandemic-hit
households and businesses. Some opposition lawmakers criticized Kishida's
government for using the stimulus package to cover military spending.
Critics also say Japan, as the world's fastest-aging country with a
shrinking population, should allocate more money toward health care and other
Japan's military spending and capabilities have grown continuously since
former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012, and has since
risen by 17%. Abe's government allowed Japan's military to be more involved in
international affairs by adopting a new interpretation in 2015 of the
war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution.