TOKYO - Japan's Defence Ministry is considering making a record request of over 5.3 trillion yen (S$65 billion) for the fiscal 2019 budget, according to Jiji news agency.
Citing informed sources, it said the amount will be over 100 billion yen bigger than its initial budget for fiscal 2018 because of the plan to buy into Aegis Ashore, a land-based missile defence system built by the US.
The Defence Ministry plans to deploy Aegis Ashore batteries in Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures amid uncertainties over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes and China's military build-up, the Jiji report said.
The two sophisticated radars involved are expected to cost a combined 267.9 billion yen.
The ministry's initial budget for fiscal 2018, which began in April, came to a record 5.19 trillion yen, up for the sixth year straight.
The five-year defence programme through fiscal 2018 allows the defence budget to grow 0.8 per cent on average on an initial-budget basis. The ministry aims to accelerate that growth to 1 per cent or more in its next defence programme.
Making a record budget request for fiscal 2019, the first year of the next mid-term defence programme, would make it easier to achieve budget growth in the following fiscal years, sources told Jiji press agency.
The ministry plans to strengthen Japan's defences against ballistic missiles because it believes there has been no change in the threat posed by Pyongyang despite the historic US-North Korea summit in June.
The ministry also sees a need to increase outlays to protect its south-western islands in the light of China's increasing activities in the East China Sea, the report said.
The ministry's wish list for fiscal 2019 will include F-35A stealth fighters. It eventually plans to buy a total of 42.
It also wants to invest in measures to prepare for non-military threats in new defence frontiers including space, cyber security and electromagnetic waves.
At a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party last Thursday (Aug 16), the ministry explained a plan to build a system to carry out cross-domain operations involving the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defence Forces. The plan will be included in the defence programme guidelines the government plans to revise at year end, the report said.