Japan's Defense Ministry on Friday requested a record budget of 5.3 trillion yen, or 47.6 billion US dollars, for the next fiscal year starting in April 2019, with the request marking an over 2-percent increase from the initial budget for the current fiscal year.
The overall budget request, to be approved by the end of this year, will likely see Japan's outlays on defense spike for a seventh successive year and mark a fifth record yearly high under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The ministry's request includes allocations to acquire the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system, with two units to be installed over a five-year period from fiscal 2019.
The ministry has also requested to buy a range of interceptor missiles. These comprise next-generation SM-3 Block 2A missiles.
The Defense Ministry also plans to bolster its capabilities in outer space and cyber space. The ministry has asked for 34 million US dollars for a system to preempt possible cyberattacks and about 240 million US dollars for a radar system to monitor activity within the Earth's orbit.
Following a scandal involving the cover-up of highly-sensitive activity logs for Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force members conducting a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, the ministry has budgeted half a billion US dollars for a cloud-based, artificial intelligence-equipped system to handle sensitive documents.
Japan's Defense Ministry also plans to acquire six more fifth-generation F-35A stealth fighter jets, one of the Pentagon's most expensive weapons systems, with each jet potentially costing around 120 million US dollars.
In addition, it also plans to upgrade its current mainstay F-15 fighters to carry cruise missiles with a range of 900 km, the ministry said.
In terms of the ministry's mid-to-longer term plans, in its latest Annual White Paper released this week, it set forth its plans to "steadily build up its defense capability."
Referring to Japan's security situation as "severe" despite the recent thaw in regional tensions and historic developments made regarding the Korean Peninsula, the ministry said its increased expenditure under such a "severe" security environment is to "strengthen the posture for protecting the life and property of the Japanese people as well as Japan's territorial land, sea, and airspace."