Our Bureau
12:20 PM, December 23, 2016
2726
File photo of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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.

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