The Japanese government proposed Friday a record defense budget of about 5.190 billion yen (about 46 billion dollars) for the fiscal year 2018/2019, in particular to enable the country to strengthen its missile defense system against the North Korea.
The state’s total budget will also be raised to a new record of 97.7 trillion yen (about 860 billion dollars), because of the increase in planned spending on defense, but also in health and protection of social services, which are exploding because of the country’s significant demographic aging.
The defense budget will increase for the sixth year in a row and the additional funds must enable Japan to prepare for the establishment of the Aegis Ashore land-intercept system.
The Japanese government approved earlier this week the introduction of this equipment by the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, after two North Korean missiles had flown over Japanese territory.
In late November, the communist regime also tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that crashed in the Sea of Japan.
During his official visit to Japan in early November, US President Donald Trump urged Japan to rearm itself to protect itself by buying US military equipment.
“It’s a lot of jobs for us (the United States, Ed) and a lot of security for Japan,” he said.
The Japanese government is also planning to buy US cruise missiles with a range of about 560 miles, capable of reaching North Korea.
However, buying such offensive weapons is likely to be controversial in Japan, since the country’s pacifist constitution since 1947 has prohibited it from resorting to war to settle international disputes.
Yukio Edano, the leader of the Democratic Constitutional Party, the main opposition movement to the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has already warned that the purchase of such missiles would be “a point of disagreement rather important” during debates on the budget law in Parliament next month.
For defense, Japan is closely dependent on the US military, which has many bases in the archipelago.
However, the nationalist Mr. Abe hopes to eventually revise the Constitution to increase the leeway of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
Abe said on Tuesday that Japan’s defense-only approach remains a “basic principle”, but that the country’s military capabilities need to be revised in the face of the “harsh reality” it faces.