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Japan Eyes Record ¥7.7 Trillion Defense Budget for Fiscal 2024

Japan is making final arrangements to earmark a record defense budget of ¥7.7 trillion ($54 billion) for fiscal 2024 as part of an intense arms buildup plan amid the severe regional security environment, government sources said Saturday.

The figure — far exceeding the previous high of ¥6.8 trillion in the initial budget for the current fiscal year through March — includes outlays for domestic long-range missiles, as part of a government plan to acquire capabilities to strike enemy territory.

But work to compile the budget is continuing without a decision on the timing of tax hikes to fund the government pledge to substantially increase the defense budget. The country’s draft budget for the next fiscal year is expected to be approved at a Cabinet meeting Friday.

In an update of key security documents in December 2022, the government set a target of expanding Japan’s annual defense budget to 2% of its gross domestic product in fiscal 2027. The government also decided to develop “counterstrike capabilities” that will enable Japan to destroy targets in enemy territory, in a major defense policy shift for Japan that upholds a pacifist Constitution.

Fiscal 2023 marked the start of a five-year period intended to fundamentally revamp the country’s defense posture by spending a combined ¥43 trillion.

For fiscal 2024, the government plans to set aside ¥96.1 billion to acquire an upgraded version of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Type-12 surface-to-ship guided missile. The new missile, which has an extended range, is set to be deployed in fiscal 2025, a year earlier than initially planned.

The budget will also include ¥64 billion to co-develop, along with Britain and Italy, a next-generation fighter jet by 2035. The project is Japan’s first joint defense equipment development deal with a nation other than the United States, Tokyo’s close security ally.

A research institute that will focus on developing innovative defense equipment is also planned, taking its cue from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, according to the sources.

The Defense Ministry requested ¥7.7 trillion for fiscal 2024 in August. This did not include costs linked to hosting U.S. military bases. The latest figure for the defense budget includes the costs.

Source: The Japan Times