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.
In addition to the military buildup by China and other neighbors, the ministry worries about the growing threats in space and the cyber realm. It wants a larger budget to develop new technologies and train personnel for these threats and to launch a dedicated electronic-warfare unit that uses electromagnetic waves to thwart enemy attacks.
The ministry will also finance the development of new jet engines that will power next-generation fighters to be deployed in 2035, around when the Self-Defense Forces start decommissioning F-2s. It will sign a contract for the new fighters as early as October with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
For an alternative to the U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore missile shield, whose deployment was halted in June, the Defense Ministry will choose from multiple options by year-end, such as building new Aegis-equipped vessels or offshore anti-missile facilities. It ask the government to fund the alternative but will not request a specific amount at this time.
One option is to set up an anti-missile radar system on land that is tied to interceptor missiles at sea. But the ministry is widely expected not to pursue this, since a hostile actor could disrupt radio communications between the radar and the missile launchers.