Ministry wants ¥176 billion for missile shield

Kyodo News

The Defense Ministry said Monday it is seeking ¥176.1 billion to beef up the missile shield in the aftermath of North Korean rocket launches earlier this year, part of an overall ¥4.846 trillion request for appropriations in the fiscal 2010 budget.

To brace for missile launches toward Japan, the ministry plans to deploy batteries across the country capable of launching Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors, including in the Tohoku, Hokkaido and Okinawa areas.

The PAC-3 system constitutes the lower part of Japan’s two-layer ballistic missile shield, which is designed to shoot down missiles in their final phase if sea-launched Standard Missile-3 interceptors fail to destroy them outside the atmosphere.

PAC-3 batteries have been deployed to cover parts of the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya areas and are scheduled to be set up in the Kyushu area by next spring.

The ¥176.1 billion request includes outlays for joint Japan-U.S. development of a ballistic missile defense system based on Aegis destroyers.

The ministry’s overall request for fiscal 2010 budget allocations is up 3.0 percent from the initial budget of this fiscal year.

A funding increase would reverse the trend of downsizing defense spending. The government has trimmed the defense budget for seven years in a row up to fiscal 2009.