Japan’s Defense Ministry Wants $50 Billion for Fiscal Year 2020 — Its Highest Budget Request Yet (excerpt)
(Source: Stars And Stripes; published August 30, 2019)
By Hana Kusumoto
TOKYO --- Japan’s Defense Ministry on Friday requested its largest-ever budget and the seventh consecutive spending hike since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012.

The ministry is seeking 5.32 trillion yen, or about $50 billion, for fiscal year 2020, which begins in April. The request reflects the Japanese government’s efforts to strengthen defense in new domains, such as space and cybersecurity, as laid out in new National Defense Program Guidelines reviewed last year.

“We will improve defense capability at a speed fundamentally different from the past in order to respond to the security environment, which is changing by a remarkably fast pace,” the proposal stated.

The Japan Self-Defense Forces rank among the world’s largest and most capable, anywhere from No. 4 to No. 6, depending who makes the list and how it’s calculated.

The 2020 defense budget request represents a 1.14% hike, about $60 billion, over this year’s budget of 5.26 trillion yen, or $49.4 billion. The defense ministry received less this year than the 5.3 trillion yen it requested.

One of the largest expenditures in the budget request, 201 billion yen, or $1.9 billion, is directed at costs related to U.S. forces stationed in Japan.

Most of that request, 152 billion yen, or $1.43 billion, would pay the salaries of Japanese workers employed by the U.S. military, utility costs and the costs associated with moving U.S. forces for training. (end of excerpt)


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Seoul to Budget Over 50 Trillion Won for Defense to Counter Growing Security Threats
(Source: Korea Times; issued Aug 29, 2019)
Seoul is seeking to spend 50.1527 trillion won (about $41.23 billion) on defense next year, according to the Ministry of National Defense, Thursday. This would be the first time for South Korea's annual defense budget to exceed 50 trillion won, if the National Assembly approves the ministry's plan to increase the budget by 7.4 percent from this year's 46.7 trillion won. The ministry is planning to submit the budget next Tuesday.

Of the total, about 16.69 trillion won, or 33.3 percent, would be allocated to strengthening defense capability by developing or purchasing state-of-the-art weapons, the largest portion for the sector since the opening of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) in 2006.

Around 6.21 trillion won will be spent on acquiring weapons to counter possible threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Seoul is planning to purchase more advanced weapons including F-35A stealth fighter jets, the Korea Tactical Surface-to-Surface Missiles (KTSSMs), Chang Bogo-III submarines and long-range surface-to-surface missiles (L-SAMs).

In particular, 27.1 billion won will be allocated to developing key technologies for the building of a light aircraft carrier, expected to carry the F-35B stealth fighter jets Seoul is considering deploying in the future.

Around 6.31 trillion will be used to improve South Korea's latest technologies ― including KF-X fighters and K2 Black Panther battle tanks in preparation for the defense reform which aims to reorganize the overall structure of the military to counter the country's demographic cliff.

Taken together, 14.7 trillion won would be earmarked to acquire the latest weapons out of the 16.69 trillion won spent on strengthening defense capability. The remaining 33.4612 trillion won out of the total 2020 budget will be spent on operating the military forces that includes running welfare policies for the serving soldiers among the others.

The government's defense budget increase is seen as an effort to counter growing security threats from neighboring countries, including North Korea, which has recently been conducting a series of weapon tests.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking the rapid expansion of Japan's defense budget which is also pressing Seoul to further strengthen defense capabilities.

According to Japanese media reports, Japan's defense ministry is seeking to expand its budget to 5.3 trillion yen (around 60 trillion won).

Tensions between South Korea and Japan on multiple fronts have heightened in recent years with the repeated "provocative" flights by Japanese patrol planes and territorial disputes surrounding South Korea's easternmost Dokdo islets where the South Korean Navy conducted its annual drill on Sunday and Monday.

Seoul's defense exercise for the East Sea and Dokdo came days after Seoul's decision last Thursday not to renew the General Military Information Sharing Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan.

On Wednesday, Kim Hyun-chong, deputy director of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office, said South Korea needs to strengthen defense capabilities to counter possible security threats amid rapid changes to the global order.

"To raise the strategic value of our country, we need to build core security capabilities such as military reconnaissance satellites, light aircraft carriers and next-generation submarines," Kim said.

The South Korean military is planning to launch five military satellites by 2023 to increase the country's reconnaissance capabilities. The country does not have any military satellites but Japan has eight and China more than 30.

Kim dismissed concerns raised after Cheong Wa Dae's decision to end the GSOMIA with Japan.

"The suggestion that the ending of GSOMIA would result in cracks in the Korea-U.S. alliance and be a serious problem in countering the security threat is wrong," Kim said. "The government will strengthen our country's own leading capability to further upgrade the Korea-U.S. alliance on the ending of the GSOMIA."

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