Japan approves record-high defense budget amid North Korea threat

Japan approves record-high defense budget amid North Korea threat

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Japan has approved highest-ever defense budget of $46bn to beef up the armed forces

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet has approved a record-high defense budget of $46 billion budget for the fiscal year 2018.

Defense spending will rise for the sixth year in a row, increasing by 1.3 percent to $45.76 billion (5.19 trillion yen, €38.65 billion). The biggest cost is 137 billion yen to reinforce defenses amid concerns over North Korea as well as China’s maritime assertiveness.

Japanese defense spending has increased by 1.3 percent to $45.76 billion (5.19 trillion yen, €38.65 billion).

The budget boost is to reinforce defenses against a possible North Korean ballistic missile attack.

Japan’s defense officials say Japan needs to drastically upgrade its missile defense in response to Pyongyang’s rapid development of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

After Cabinet members approved the new spending plan, Japanese Minister of Defence Intsunori Onodera said:

“It is essential that we have the latest, most capable equipment to bolster our defenses.”

The new spendings include a new longer-range interceptor, the SM-3 Block IIA, designed to strike ballistic missiles in space, upgrades for the Patriot missile batteries that are the last line of defense against incoming warheads, and the cost for introduction of the U.S.-developed land-based Aegis missile defense system.

The budget includes more than 2 billion yen ($18 million) for a 500-kilometer (310-mile) range Norwegian-developed cruise missile that can be fired from F-35 stealth fighter jets.

The budget also includes compatibility studies on U.S.-made 900-kilometer (560-mile) range cruise missiles. Japan is also acquiring next-generation interceptors jointly developed by Japan and the U.S. and plans to upgrade its home-made defense air control and advanced radar systems.

Japan also decided to spend 30 million yen for research into introducing Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, which both have a roughly 900-km range.

Japan has also earmarked 78.5 billion yen for the purchase of six more F-35A stealth fighter jets and 39.3 billion yen for four more V-22 Ospreys, Kyodo reported.

To invest into future technologies, the government set aside 4.6 billion yen to study high-speed glide bombs, a longer-range weapon which it says would be useful for operations to retake invaded remote islands, and 5.4 billion yen for research on anti-ship missiles also for the purpose of island defense.

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