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Japan is Strengthening its Defense Arsenal Amid North Korean Weapon Tests

As DPRK tests weapons, the Japanese Defense Ministry takes precautions.

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By Vaughn Hoisington | JAPAN

In an attempt to increase national security against the threat of North Korea’s missiles and nuclear program, Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested an additional 730 million yen ($6.4 million) to be added to the initial budget for 2018. The budget was already their highest ever, at ¥5.26 trillion ($47.6 billion), with an increase of 2.5 percent from last year’s initial budget.

The addition to the budget will be used to scout potential land-based sites in Akita and Yamaguchi Prefectures to deploy Aegis Ashore missile-defense units, which are believed to be the defense system Japan will purchase two of, with a portion of their originally requested budget. These units cost around ¥80 billion ($728 million) and were originally planned to be deployed in 2023, but the Japanese Government is allocating ¥2.1 billion ($18 million) from its supplementary budget to accelerate preparation for the development of missile defense complexes.

With Aegis Ashore missile-defense units, Japan’s missile defense system would become three-tiered. Japan’s current two-tiered system involves “ships armed with SM-3 interceptor missiles, which must knock down a ballistic missile on the middle part of its trajectory. If this is not done, the second level of missile defense will be deployed using the Patriot PAC-3, which must intercept the missile at the final stage of its flight.”

Along with plans to purchase Aegis Ashore missile-defense units from the U.S., the Defense Ministry will seek to use the budget to develop an improved anti-stealth radar system that can distinguish ballistic missiles that are more difficult to detect and improve detection capabilities on the Japan Aerospace Defense Ground Environment automatic alert control system. Japan’s Defense Ministry also plans to purchase six F-35A stealth fighters, maintain facilities on the southwestern island of Okinawa Prefecture for units of the Self-Defense Forces, and study the development of high-speed glide bombs with the remaining amount of the budget.

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