Amid escalating tension with China and North Korea, the Japanese government on Thursday announced increase in defence budget for fiscal 2017 starting April 1, that covers a new amphibious force and a new sea-based ballistic missile interceptor system.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved ¥5.13 trillion ($43.66 billion) draft budget, a 1.4 percent increase from last year, The Japan Times report.
The new defence budget draft allocated ¥14.7 billion ($125 million) to an advanced ship-based ballistic missile interceptor, the Standard Missile-3 Block 2A, co-developed with the United States.
And to counter growing nuclear threats by North Korea, the cabinet earmarked ¥33.1 billion ($282 million) to double the range of its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors in the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2016, which was approved the same day.
In addition, about ¥60 million ($511,304) will be earmarked as research funds for the potential procurement of new equipment, such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, a U.S. missile defense system.
In view of China’s growing maritime activities in South China Sea, the ministry allocated ¥70.7 billion ($602 million) to prepare for the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force units on Miyako Island in Okinawa and Amami-Oshima Island northeast of Okinawa.
The Cabinet also secured ¥8.5 billion ($72 million) to acquire 11 AAV-7 amphibious vehicles, ¥72.8 billion ($620 million) for a new, quieter 3,000-ton submarine with improved underwater sound detection capabilities aimed at strengthening surveillance. The ministry plans to buy six F-35 stealth fighters worth ¥88 billion, expanding its fleet to 22, with the eventual goal of having 42 of the planes.