Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) is requesting a record 5.09 trillion yen ($42.38 billion) defense budget for fiscal year 2016, up 2.2 percent from the current fiscal year, Jiji Press reports.
The budget request is heavily geared toward fortifying Japan’s position in the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands – an island chain administered by Tokyo in the East China Sea.
Among other things, the MOD the budget proposal has specifically allocated $90 million to purchase land and expand a Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) base to station a GSDF patrol unit on Miyakojima island in Okinawa Prefecture, and $72 million for construction of another base to house a GSDF patrol unit equipped with mobile surveillance radars on Amami Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The MOD also plans to construct a military radar station on Yonaguni island, the westernmost inhabited island of Japan, located 150 kilometers south of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
In terms of military hardware, the budget proposal includes 17 Mitsubishi SH-60K anti-submarine warfare helicopters, 12 Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (a hybrid between a conventional helicopter and turboprop plane), three Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk drones, six F-35A Lightning II fighter planes, one Kawasaki C-2 military transport aircraft, and 36 new lighter maneuver combat vehicles (MCVs).
Other purchases include AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles — Japan is in the process of setting up an Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade by 2017 — tanker aircraft, Aegis destroyers, and mobile missile batteries.
The MOD’s 10-year National Program Guidelines – subdivided into two five-year Mid-Term Defense Programs – has allocated 23.97 trillion yen ($199.5 billion) within five years (2014-2018) toward the creation of more amphibious warfare capabilities and a lighter “Dynamic Joint Defense Force.”
By the end of 2023, the MOD plans to convert seven out of the current 15 GSDF brigades and divisions into mobile divisions.
“For fiscal 2016, the 8th Division based in Kumamoto city and the 14th Brigade based in Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture, will be the first converted. The maneuver combat vehicles to be purchased will be deployed to those two units,” the Asahi Shimbun reports.
Japan is also planning to set up a Defense Procurement Agency (DPA) in early 2016 to better coordinate new acquisitions among the three service branches and to encourage the domestic defense industry to partner up with international defense contractors to co-develop new military hardware.
In addition, Tokyo is also working to introduce more long-term defense contracts and bulk orders in order to save costs and provide more stable and predictable procurement plans for defense firms. For example, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) will receive 20 P-1 patrol planes – Japan’s first indigenously developed and built maritime patrol aircraft – by 2022 based on one placed bulk order that will save the MOD 41.7 billion yen ($348 million), according to Defense News.