TOKYO --- The Cabinet on Friday approved a record-high draft defense budget for fiscal 2018 to beef up Japan’s missile defenses against the growing threat from North Korea, breaking the record for the fourth consecutive year.
The draft budget for fiscal 2018 rose to ¥5.19 trillion from ¥5.13 trillion the previous year, and covers upgrades to the ballistic missile defense system and procure long-range cruise missiles to be launched from fighter jets.
“Our nation’s security is under a greater threat. It is significantly important that we procure cutting-edge equipment,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Friday.
“It’s important that we continue to increase pressure on North Korea to urge the regime to alter its policy. (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump repeated ‘all options are on the table.’ We must prepare to be able to correspond to various situations,” he said.
On Tuesday the government said it will introduce two Aegis Ashore interceptor batteries, so ¥700 million was allocated to survey potential sites and design a deployment plan.
The U.S.-made land-based version of the Aegis combat system developed for warships is a collection of radars, computers and missiles. Japan plans to deploy two Aegis Ashore batteries by 2023 at the earliest.
Aegis Ashore will add a new layer of protection to Japan’s current missile shield, which consists of Patriot interceptor batteries, backed up by Aegis-equipped destroyers.
Defense officials say acquiring Aegis Ashore would allow the government to cover the entire country from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and make preparations for interception easier than that for the Aegis destroyers.
To buy Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors for Aegis Ashore, the ministry allocated ¥44 billion. The interceptor was co-developed with the United States. (end of excerpt)
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