TOKYO (AP) – The Japanese government on Friday approved a request for 770 billion yen ($ 6.8 billion) for an additional defense budget …
TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s cabinet on Friday approved a 770 billion yen ($ 6.8 billion) request for an additional defense budget until March to speed up the purchase of missiles, anti-submarine missiles and other weapons due to growing concerns over the escalation of military activities China, Russia and North Korea.
The request, which is still awaiting 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), an increase of 15% from 5.31 trillion yen in 2020.
The Ministry of Defense says that its “reinforcement and acceleration package for defense force” is designed to speed up the deployment of some of the key equipment from the 2022 budget request. The goal is to strengthen Japan’s defense against North Korea’s missile threat and China’s increasingly confident maritime activity around remote Japanese southwestern islands, officials said.
Japan has also expressed concern over recent joint military activities from 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, causing Japanese self-defense jets to climb, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on 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 ($ 7 billion) will go toward speeding up the purchase of reconnaissance aircraft and equipment, including three P-1s, P-3C equipment and vertical firing systems to be placed on two destroyers, in order to increase surveillance around Japan’s territorial waters and airspace.
Japan has stepped up defense 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 located north of the uninhabited Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China, who call them Diaoyu.
Tokyo regularly protests against the Chinese Coast Guard’s presence near the Senkaku Islands.
The ministry also plans to build housing for land troops on Ishigaki Island.
The combined budget for 2021 will be just over 1% of Japan’s GDP, with the usual ceiling. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he is open to doubling Japan’s military spending to cope with the deteriorating security environment.
The extra budget also aims to ease the burden on Japanese suppliers of defense equipment and parts struggling to sustain the country’s dwindling industry, officials said.
Critics say Japan, as the world’s fastest growing country with a declining population, should devote more money to health care and other services.
Japan’s military spending and capabilities have grown steadily since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012, and have since increased by 17%. Abe’s government allowed the Japanese military to become more involved in international affairs by adopting a new interpretation in 2015 of Article 9 of the war-torn constitution.
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