New Japanese Administration Requests Immediate Boost in Defense Spending

On 9 January, one day after announcing the increase in defense spending requested for 2013, the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) also announced that the new Abe administration is requesting an immediate defense increase of an additional $2.1 billion.  This supplementary funding is reportedly earmarked for the purchase of additional Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile batteries and to pay for upgrades to four Mitsubishi-built F-15J Eagle fighters and three SH-60J anti-submarine patrol helicopters.

While the JSDF is reasonably well-equipped with defensive weaponry, the air fleet is beginning to show its age and naval and ground forces have received little or no training in offensive operations.  Japanese warfighting capabilities are limited and in serious need of improvement.

On 9 January, the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that a far-reaching economic stimulus package will include an additional $2.1 billion in defense spending to be initiated within the next few months.  This supplementary funding is in addition to the existing funding previously programmed into the defense budget for 2012-2013, but is separate from an increase in defense spending requested for the next fiscal year that was announced on 8 January.

According to MoD officials, some of the new funding will be applied toward the purchase of more Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile batteries.  The supplementary funding will also be applied to finance upgrades to four of Japan’s aging fleet of F-15J Eagle fighters and three Mitsubishi-built SH-60J anti-submarine patrol helicopters.

This immediate increase in defense spending is in response to recent events that have raised security concerns among members of Japan’s new administration and has been characterized as being an “emergency economic measure in answer to increasingly tense security risks facing Japan in the Asia-Pacific region.

A MoD spokesperson said that funding to cover the cost of procuring three additional SH-60K anti-submarine patrol helicopters would also be requested.  The MoD spokesperson singled out disputes with China regarding the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea and North Korea’s surprising success in missile technology as the primary reasons for requesting additional funding to finance immediate defense updates.

Potentially dangerous confrontations with Chinese forces have escalated to record levels in recent months, particularly following Japan’s purchase of three of the four barren rocks in the Senkaku Island chain that China adamantly insists belong to the People’s Republic.

On 5 January the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) scrambled F-15 fighters when a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Y-12 maritime patrol aircraft made a close approach to the airspace over the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands.  The Y-12 withdrew before entering the disputed airspace.  This incident was the sixth such challenge in recent months.  Chinese naval vessels have cruised through the disputed territory on numerous occasions prompting the immediate deployment of Japanese Coast Guard vessels to confront the Chinese ships.

In usual circumstances, approximately 70 to 80 percent of Japanese defense spending is funneled to domestic firms, but there is no legal requirement to do so.

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