Japan Defense Ministry requests record budget of USD 53 Bn

On August 31, 2023, the Japanese Ministry of Defense unveiled its budget proposal for the fiscal year 2024, totaling a record 7.7385 trillion yen, which is approximately equivalent to $53.3 billion in US dollars. This budget request surpasses the initial allocation of 6.8219 trillion yen (approximately $47.1 billion) for the ongoing fiscal year 2023, reflecting Japan's efforts to boost its military capabilities amidst heightened regional security concerns.
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Japan Defense Ministry requests record budget of $53 Billion (Picture source Wikimedia)

In terms of defense expenditure, approximately 43 trillion yen (approximately $295.3 billion) has been secured over the next five years to significantly strengthen defense capabilities, with the upcoming fiscal year marking the second year of implementation. This proposed budget increase follows Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's adjustments to a pivotal security document in the preceding year, signifying a commitment to augment defense spending. The current proposal excludes costs associated with hosting US military bases, which have historically amounted to around 200 billion yen (approximately $1.38 billion) annually. This forthcoming increase in the initial defense budget would continue the trend of 12 consecutive years of upward adjustments.

A substantial portion of the proposed budget, specifically 755.1 billion yen (approximately $5.2 billion), is allocated to enhance "standoff" defense capabilities. This initiative primarily involves the development and acquisition of missiles capable of being launched beyond the range of enemy fire, with potential applications for Japan's next-generation fighter aircraft.

The plan outlines an allocation of 930.3 billion yen (approximately $6.41 billion) to secure ammunition critical for improving warfighting capabilities. This budget request aligns with the National Security Strategy's long-term directives, which were revised in the previous December. These directives emphasize acquiring counterstrike capabilities and almost doubling annual defense expenditure over a five-year period through fiscal year 2027.

The changing security landscape, marked by challenges from China, North Korea, and Russia, prompted a strategic shift by the Kishida administration from Japan's traditionally defensive posture outlined in its Constitution. In anticipation of potential contingencies near remote southwestern islands, an allocation of 595.1 billion yen (approximately $4.11 billion) is dedicated to enhancing rapid deployment capabilities, including the procurement of transport helicopters.

Furthermore, around 379.7 billion yen (approximately $2.62 billion) is designated for constructing two destroyers equipped with the U.S.-developed Aegis missile interceptor system, an alternative to the initially planned land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense batteries. These destroyers are expected to be commissioned by fiscal year 2028.

A sum of 75 billion yen (approximately $517.5 million) is set aside for collaborative efforts with the United States in developing a "glide phase interceptor," aimed at countering potential hypersonic weapons developed by various countries, including Pyongyang, Beijing, and Moscow. Additionally, 63.7 billion yen (approximately $439.53 million) is allocated to contribute to the joint development of next-generation fighter jets by 2035, in partnership with Britain and Italy.

Furthermore, by the end of the next fiscal year, Japan intends to establish a permanent joint command center with a capacity of 240 personnel in Ichigaya, Tokyo, where the Ministry of Defense is headquartered. This move aims to enhance coordination among the three military branches: land, sea, and air.