The Defense Agency hopes to increase the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces to combat terrorism, guerrilla attacks and spy ships, and on Friday requested an allocation of 5.0043 trillion yen in the fiscal 2003 general account budget to achieve this — an increase of 64.8 billion yen, or 1.3 percent, from the initial budget for the current fiscal year.

Agency officials said the extra funds are not only to enhance the SDF but also to continue the five-year defense buildup program that started in 2001.

The agency is seeking 19.3 billion yen for measures to counter a guerrilla attack, including the creation of a special 300-member Ground Self-Defense Force unit.

The SDF’s first special forces unit will be trained at the GSDF base in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture, and placed under the direct command of a Defense Agency director general, the officials said.

The GSDF will also seek allocations to start construction of a second training facility to cope with urban guerrilla attacks in the Aibano Training Area in Shiga Prefecture, in addition to the one already under construction in the Higashi-Fuji Training Area in Shizuoka Prefecture.

In the wake of the Japan Coast Guard shootout with a suspected North Korean vessel in the East China Sea in December, the agency also plans to bolster the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s ability to deal with such incidents.

The MSDF hopes to strengthen surveillance in the East China Sea by assigning an additional P-3C patrol aircraft, they said. The MSDF also plans to improve image transmitting systems and defense devices for P-3Cs.

The Air Self-Defense Force is asking for the purchase of a second aerial tanker in the next fiscal year. The force is also seeking a budget allocation to enable its F-15s to participate in the U.S.-hosted Corp Thunder exercise for the first time. The drill is held annually in Alaska, during which the fighter jets would practice in-flight refueling with U.S. tankers, they said.

The Defense Facilities Administration Agency is seeking 569.1 billion yen in the fiscal 2003 budget, up 10.3 billion yen from the current fiscal year. This includes 253.6 billion yen for U.S. military facilities in Japan. The requested budget for maintenance of U.S. installations based on new contracts will total 69.9 billion yen, down 5.3 billion yen.

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