National

Defense Ministry pursues record spending amid plan to buy more U.S. arms: report

Reuters

Japan’s military looks to raise spending over the next five years in response to security challenges and to narrow Japan’s trade surplus with the United States by buying U.S. equipment, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday.

The Defense Ministry looks to spend at least ¥27 trillion between April 2019 and March 2024, with the spending rising an average 1.1 percent per year, exceeding the 0.8 percent average during the five years ending next March, the report said without identifying its sources.

Currently, payments on equipment and personnel expenses account for 80 percent of defense spending, the Nikkei said. Under the plan, funds for new equipment purchases will be separated from these expenses, making it easier to buy equipment from the United States, it added.

Japan aims to have Cabinet approval for the spending in mid-December, it said. The Defense Ministry could not be reached immediately for comment.

Purchases of American-made equipment could help Tokyo ease trade friction with Washington as U.S. President Donald Trump pushes Japan to buy more American goods, including military gear, while threatening to impose tariffs on Japanese auto imports to cut a trade deficit with Tokyo.

The Defense Ministry in August sought record spending of ¥5.3 trillion next year to help pay for major upgrades to defenses designed to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missile, which Tokyo sees as a continued threat despite Pyongyang’s promise to abandon nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been reinforcing Japan’s military to respond to any North Korea missile strike and counter China’s growing air and sea power in the waters around Japan.

Japan remains wary of North Korean promises to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. The Defense Ministry said in a white paper published in August that Pyongyang remained Japan’s “most serious and pressing threat.”