Japan proposes $51B defense budget, citing increased threats

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Sept. 21 (UPI) — Japan’s defense budget for the next fiscal year seeks a record $51.6 billion and includes plans to build an electronic warfare unit as a check against China.

Tokyo’s military budget, which has risen every year for the past nine years during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s term of office, is rising 1.63% for fiscal year 2021, the Nikkei reported Monday.

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Japan’s defense ministry has said the budget increase is “inevitable,” citing increased threats in the region. Tokyo has previously said it is keeping a close watch on North Korean missile threats and Chinese activities in the South China Sea and near the Japan-claimed Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China.

Japan’s wariness of China is growing as Beijing deploys more warplanes in the Taiwan Strait, a move that drew condemnation from President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday.

Tokyo’s newly appointed Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi could soon strengthen ties with Taiwan. Kishi, the younger brother of Abe, has sought to promote exchange between Japan and Taiwan and served as a liaison to Taipei, according to the Japan Times. China has warned foreign governments against courting too-close ties with Taiwan.

On Monday, the defense ministry said the proposed budget would help Japan develop outer space and cyberspace capabilities. Electronic warfare units designed to impede enemy assaults through the use of the electromagnetic or EM spectrum, are included in the plan. EW units can conduct operations that include disabling the communication function of approaching opponents.

Japanese military spending in 2021 would also cover the development of next-generation fighter jets. Japan is developing a successor to the F-2 Support Fighter by 2035, according to reports.

The defense budget is being submitted at a time when Tokyo is also considering a substitute for the Aegis Ashore, after canceling a planned deployment of the U.S. missile defense system.

The Sankei Shimbun reported Sunday the government is considering an anti-missile radar system at sea connected to interceptor missiles fired from land.

Tokyo is deciding between two options, building a new Aegis destroyer, or deploying a frigate equipped with Aegis radar, as an alternative to Aegis Ashore, according to the report.