TOKYO, -- The Defense Ministry plans to seek a record-high budget of ¥5.17 trillion ($51.7 billion) for fiscal 2017, and aims to boost production of advanced missile interceptors to respond to increasing threats by North Korea, a government source said Thursday.
For the first time ever, the ministry is planning to allocate funds to acquire ship-based Standard Missile-3 Block 2A missiles, which have been jointly developed with the United States, the source said.
For the budget year starting next April, the Defense Ministry is also aiming to secure funds for improving the capacity of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors, according to the source.
North Korea has launched ballistic missiles at a record pace this year, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and despite warnings from the international community, apparently prompting Japan to take more aggressive action to defend itself.
The fiscal 2017 budget request marks a 2.3 percent rise from the initial budget for the current year through March.
The Defense Ministry budget request for fiscal 2017 is likely to include ¥98.7 billion to retool 28 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors and ¥14.7 billion to buy SM-3 Block 2A missiles.
Tokyo and Washington plan to complete the co-development of the latter missiles by the end of next year and immediately start to jointly produce them.
To step up efforts to defend Japan’s remote islands, the Defense Ministry will request ¥74.6 billion to cover costs for the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force units on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture and Amami-Oshima Island off Kyushu.
The ministry also hopes that the government will spend ¥39.3 billion to acquire four Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft and ¥94.6 billion to buy six F-35 stealth fighter jets.
Japan selected the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Lightning II through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales process.