TOKYO --- The Defense Ministry will seek a budget of over ¥5.4 trillion for fiscal 2021 — another record — government sources said Monday, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to continue with his predecessor’s policy of bolstering Japan’s capabilities in new domains.
The seventh consecutive year of all-time high requests compares with the ¥5.31 trillion sought in the ministry’s initial budget for the year ending in March. The plan comes amid growing concerns about the country’s fiscal health, the worst among major economies, with over ¥1.1 quadrillion worth of public debt. In fiscal 2020, the new government debt issuance is set to exceed ¥90 trillion to a record high in response to a coronavirus pandemic.
“The Defense Ministry’s request for another modest increase in defense spending reflects the changing understanding of the security challenges Japan is facing and the tools it wishes to acquire to mitigate these challenges,” said Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor at International Christian University in Tokyo.
Suga — Japan’s first prime minister in nearly eight years — took office on Wednesday to succeed Shinzo Abe, who stepped down for health reasons, pledging to continue his policies including those on national security and diplomacy.
The ministry will make a budget request by the end of September that will include funding for a specialized electronic warfare unit as part of efforts initiated under Abe to strengthen capabilities in “new spheres” including cyberspace and outer space in a veiled counter to China and Russia, the sources said. (end of excerpt)
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