01 September 2017

News Story: Japan Defense Ministry seeks missile interceptors in budget

By: Mari Yamaguchi

TOKYO — Japan’s Defense Ministry is seeking a record-high budget to add missile interceptors and other equipment to defend the country from more North Korean weapons launches.

The 5.26 trillion yen (U.S. $47.78 billion) request for the fiscal year beginning next April is a 2.5 percent increase from the current year. A big chunk of the request announced Thursday will cover purchases of upgraded missile interceptors with expanded range, altitude and accuracy.

They include the ship-to-air SM-3 Block IIA jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan and the surface-to-air PAC-3 MSE.

The request comes amid growing fear about North Korea’s missile threat and rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. On Tuesday, Pyongyang fired a missile that flew over Japan and landed in the northern Pacific Ocean. It flight tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and has threatened to send missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam, where the U.S. has military bases.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Tuesday’s missile firing an “unprecedented, grave and serious threat.” On Wednesday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, an advocate of bolstering Japan’s missile and strike-back capability, said Tokyo must quickly upgrade its missile arsenal.

China, which is seen by Tokyo as another security concern, questioned Japan’s intentions.

“We think Japan is obliged to explain its real intention to the international community,” Hua Chunying, China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman, told a regular news conference.

Japan has criticized Beijing over its military spending and assertive maritime activity in regional waters.

Read the full story at DefenseNews