The Defense Ministry has requested an additional ¥730 million from the fiscal 2018 budget to build two land-based Aegis missile defense systems, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to endorse the deployment of the Aegis Ashore batteries on Dec. 19, a government source said, as the country aims to bolster its ability to defend against North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat.
“There is a need to strengthen our capability to regularly and sustainably defend all of the country as soon as possible at a time when North Korea is building up its ballistic missile capability,” Onodera told reporters Sunday in Sendai, where he inspected a Ground Self-Defense Force base.
Onodera said the funds requested for fiscal 2018 starting April 1, will be used for surveying geological features, designing the deployment plan and other expenses.
The ministry is also seeking to include related expenses in the supplementary budget for the fiscal 2017 ending March 31, Onodera said.
In its initial fiscal 2018 budget request in August, which hit a record-high ¥5.26 trillion, the Defense Ministry said it was seeking funds to introduce a new missile shield system but left the actual sum open.
Japan’s current missile shield comprises two layers. The first is Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers that use the Aegis combat system and Standard Missile-3 interceptors to stop missiles in the outer atmosphere.
The second line of defense is the Air Self-Defense Force’s ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, which are designed to counter attacks in the lower atmosphere.
Aegis Ashore is expected to strengthen the missile defense system even further. Compared to the sea-based operations of the destroyers, which will be moving, the land-based Aegis Ashore system makes it easier for the SDF to prepare for missile intercepts because the batteries will be stationary.