The Japanese military today sought to increase the country’s defence budget in view of continuing tensions with North Korea. This new development comes after the Japanese military made known to its government that its defence needed massive upgrades if it is to shoot down and intercept possible ballistic missiles fired from the Korean peninsula.
The budget proposal by Japan’s Ministry of Defence requests for a 2.1% increase in defence expenditure, up to $48 billion for the upcoming year. If approved by the Japanese government, it will be the seventh time in seven years that Japan has sought to increase its military expenditure under PM Shinzo Abe.
A substantial portion of this proposed budget is meant to be for Japan’s ballistic missile defence, specifically on American-made Aegis Ashore Missile Defence systems which when deployed on land will have the capability to track Japanese-bound targets from the Korean peninsula. Japan also seeks to fund the ship-to-air SM-3 Block IIA interceptor to intercept and destroy mainland-bound targets as well as upgrade the present air fleet to make them compatible with interceptor missiles.
This proposal comes after thawing of relations between North and South Korea as well as decent progress in the relations between North Korea and Japan’s ally, United States of America.
Although North Korea has promised to ‘denuclearize’ and destroy all nuclear weapons, Japan remains wary of the former. North Korea has already conducted three nuclear tests and has fired over 40 ballistic missiles, including two over Japan, since 2016 and has been categorized as a ‘serious and imminent threat’ by Japanese officials.
It was also in light of North Korean aggression over the past few years that Japan had in 2014, lifted the long-standing ban on engaging Japanese troops abroad.