Japan’s defense ministry on Thursday requested a record budget worth $53 billion for the next fiscal year as tensions rise with China and North Korea.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last year unveiled a major security overhaul, including a pledge to raise defense spending to two percent of GDP by 2027.
The defense ministry asked Thursday for 7.74 trillion yen ($53 billion) for the 2024-25 fiscal year, up from 6.8 billion yen for the current year, according to the request seen by AFP.
The ministry wants 380 billion yen to build two new warships rigged with the US-developed Aegis missile defense system.
Some 755 billion yen will go toward shoring up the nation’s “stand-off” defense capacity, such as purchases of missiles.
Japan also plans to spend 75 billion yen for a joint development of interceptors to shoot down hypersonic missiles.
Japan has been alarmed by China’s expanding military ambitions, including the possibility of a violent takeover of Taiwan.
North Korea’s missile launches and the possibility of future nuclear tests have also pushed Japan to boost its defense spending.
Tokyo has also been rattled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It is essential for Japan to possess the necessary and adequate capability to intercept and eliminate vessels and landing forces no matter where an invasion of our country may occur,” the defense budget request said.
Japan is also moving to buy more ammunition to deal with prolonged battles, to improve its cyber defense and space operations, and to explore more use of drones and other unmanned technologies.
The ministry also pledged to boost its spending plans for the maintenance of existing equipment, as Japanese troops have routinely had to gut broken jets and vehicles for parts.
The defence ministry request will be sent to the finance ministry to prepare the 2024-25 budget, which will be presented to parliament in January.