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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 30 - September 5  > Defense Ministry takes advantage of ‘threat’ from N. Korea to request biggest-ever budget
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2017 August 30 - September 5 [POLITICS]

Defense Ministry takes advantage of ‘threat’ from N. Korea to request biggest-ever budget

September 2, 2017
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

The Defense Ministry has submitted the FY2018 budget of 5.25 trillion yen, up 130 billion yen from its record high last year.

In the budgetary request, spending for missile defense programs rose sharply to 179.1 billion yen from 64.9 billion yen in FY2017. Stating that the threat from North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs entered “a new stage”, the ministry incorporated in the request the cost for introducing the Aegis Ashore missile defense system.

The Aegis Ashore system is a ground-based missile interceptor. The amount of the expenditure for the system will be confirmed by the end of this year. However, as each set of the system is estimated to cost 80 billion yen, next year’s defense budget will most likely increase further.

Many experts say that missile defense systems have severe limitations. It is impossible to cover the whole territory of Japan with the range of anti-missile systems even if the Aegis Ashore system is introduced. This is why some politicians of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party insist that Japan should possess the capability to preemptively attack missile bases in enemy countries.

In this context, it is important that the requested defense budget includes R&D spending for new missiles such as high-speed armed drones and anti-ship missiles. The Defense Ministry says these missiles are for the defense of remote islands, but they can be used also for striking enemy bases. Government officials admitted that missile range extensions will create the ability to attack missile facilities in North Korea, according to the September 1 issue of Asahi Shimbun.

The remote island defense argument is also used as an excuse to purchase more U.S. F-35A fighter jets (six units, 88.1 billion yen) and V-22 Osprey aircraft (four units, 45.7 billion yen). The ministry decided to use 14.4 billion yen to purchase the unmanned spy aircraft Global Hawk, although it considered giving up the purchase because the aircraft’s cost had soared from the originally estimated.

Japan would be required to spend trillions of yen to acquire the capability to hit enemy bases. The only rational way to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs is to engage in diplomatic negotiations and not turn to military options.
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