Defense Ministry targets economic stimulus with hardware request

January 09, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The Defense Ministry has asked for additional hardware worth 180.5 billion yen ($2 billion) in a forthcoming supplementary budget intended to unleash a new economic stimulus before the end of this fiscal year.

The requests include the purchase of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air guided missiles and upgrades to four existing F-15 fighter jets.

Other spending would go toward such areas as new telecommunications systems for troops and the renovation of military bases in a total package worth 212.4 billion yen, a record request for an extra budget.

Critics may question whether such spending can be described as economic stimulus, but the Finance Ministry plans to approve the full amount. The new government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to increase defense spending overall.

The extra budget will total 13.1 trillion yen for operational expenses, a burden to be shouldered jointly by the central and local governments.

The Defense Ministry's shopping list also includes medium-range surface-to-air missiles, three patrol helicopters to enhance early-warning and surveillance capability, a helicopter for use in disaster response, and four additional helicopters: two for use in rescues, and two for minesweeping and transport.

In the past, the ministry has mainly used extra budget requests to implement energy-saving measures such as replacing Self-Defense Force vehicles with fuel-efficient models and improving energy conservation at office buildings.

But this time, against a background of belligerence by China and a recent long-range missile launch by North Korea, the ministry is arguing for investment in major equipment instead.

Asked about its effectiveness as economic stimulus measures, ministry officials said more than 70 percent of the contracts would go to domestic companies. Even if some equipment is manufactured abroad, they said, Japanese companies would be responsible for part of its production, under licensing agreements.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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A PAC-3 missile unit (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A PAC-3 missile unit (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • A PAC-3 missile unit (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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