Japan Coast Guard to spend 27% of budget on boosting Senkaku surveillance in 2017

Kyodo, AP

The Japan Coast Guard will devote 27 percent of its fiscal 2017 budget to ramping up patrols near the disputed Senkaku Islands, the draft approved by the Cabinet said Thursday.

The Japan Coast Guard has a ¥210.6 billion budget for fiscal 2017, and ¥57.8 billion will be spent on improving surveillance mainly in waters near the remote islands.

The plans also calls for building another helicopter carrier and another large patrol vessel, government officials said.

The budget will help the Japan Coast Guard achieve its plan to expand its fleet of patrol vessels to 142 by the end of fiscal 2020 from 128 at the end of fiscal 2015, they said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his Cabinet ministers Wednesday that Japan needs to “substantially strengthen the structure and capabilities” of the Japan Coast Guard. “We will urgently begin strengthening our (maritime safety) structure.”

The uninhabited islands have long been administered by Japan but are claimed as Diaoyu by China and Tiaoyutai by Taiwan.

They have been at the center of diplomatic row since 2012, when Japan effectively nationalized the chain. Both Japanese and Chinese vessels and aircraft routinely chase each other around the area, raising concerns that collisions or other accidents will create problems in the near future.

The new budget will also cover the cost of installing video transmission devices on vessels dedicated to Senkaku patrols and strengthening maritime surveillance and other measures, Abe said.