• Kyodo

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The Finance Ministry on Wednesday called for cuts of ¥1 trillion off the nation’s defense budget over the next five years through more cost-effective procurement of equipment including destroyers and fighter jets.

The ministry is seeking to include the spending cut in the Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces’ medium-term defense program for fiscal years 2019 through 2023, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government will draw up by the end of the year.

The move reflects the Finance Ministry’s desire to keep requests for the defense budget at a manageable level as the country grapples with the cost of caring for a graying population. The budget reached a record-high ¥5.3 trillion for fiscal 2018 due in part to the cost of deploying a new land-based missile defense system.

The ministry views the cost cut as achievable because similar reductions have been successfully implemented in recent years.

Around ¥770 billion was shaved off initial estimates for defense spending over the past five years through measures including bulk purchasing and replacing specialized equipment with readily available civilian versions, according to the ministry.

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