Japan's Defense Ministry on Thursday requested a record 7.7 trillion yen ($53 billion) budget for fiscal 2024 as the government aims to deploy arms to realize newly authorized capabilities to strike enemy targets for stronger deterrence in the wake of the worsening regional security environment.
The figure exceeds the 6.8 trillion yen initial budget for the current fiscal 2023 that started in April, after the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida updated a key security document late last year and pledged to boost defense spending.
The requested amount does not include costs linked to hosting U.S. military bases, which have been about 200 billion yen annually. The initial defense budget, expected to be fixed by the year-end, will likely rise for the 12th straight year.
Among the planned outlays, 755.1 billion yen will be allocated for enhancing its "standoff" defense capacity, the main pillar of so-called counterstrike capabilities, by developing and procuring missiles capable of being launched from beyond the range of enemy fire.
In the government's long-term policy guidelines, the National Security Strategy, revamped last December, the government vowed to obtain counterstrike capabilities and almost double its annual defense expenditure over five years through fiscal 2027.
Facing security challenges posed by China, North Korea and Russia, the move by the Kishida administration was a significant shift from Japan's exclusively defense-oriented policy under its war-renouncing Constitution.
To make better preparations for a contingency near the country's remote southwestern islands, 595.1 billion yen will be appropriated for improving capabilities to swiftly deploy personnel and transport equipment, such as purchasing transport helicopters.
Around 379.7 billion yen is to be used to build two destroyers equipped with the U.S.-developed Aegis missile interceptor system, expected to be commissioned by fiscal 2028, as an alternative to a scrapped plan of deploying two land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense batteries.
Some 75 billion yen will be earmarked to promote the joint development with the United States of a "glide phase interceptor," a missile to shoot down hypersonic weapons believed to be being designed by Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow, among others.
As part of the costs for the project of co-developing the next-generation fighter jets by 2035 together with Britain and Italy, 63.7 billion yen will be set aside.