Japan’s Ministry of Defense submitted a budget proposal on Wednesday requesting a further 3.3-percent spending rise to a record 5.49 trillion yen (52 billion dollars) for the next fiscal year, which begins on April 1.
Japan’s new proposed stealth jet fighter project is expected to cost nearly 40 billion dollars and to be completed sometime in the 2030s. The development of the warplane is intended to contest new aircraft being deployed by China, which is also considered as the biggest challenge to US interests and military presence in the Pacific region.
Japan’s leading weapons maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is expected to be named as the lead contractor for the military project next month. But a number of American and British arms makers are also vying to join the project as suppliers and partners, including the US-based Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, and Northrop Grumman Corp, as well as the UK-based BAE Systems Plc and Rolls Royce Holdings Plc.
The latest budget request further asks for 731 million dollars for development and research.
Other proposed military expenditures include 66.6 billion yen for six American F-35 stealth fighters, two of which are short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants that will operate off a converted helicopter carrier.
Japan’s military planners further seek 99 billion yen to build two new compact warships that can operate with fewer sailors than conventional destroyers in their bid to ease the pressure on its struggling navy, which is having trouble recruiting new service members from the country’s aging population.
Tokyo also plans to upgrade its early warning radars and ballistic missile defenses, and is requesting reserve funds for a yet-undecided replacement for two planned Aegis Ashore radar stations that were canceled in June due to high costs and concerns over the impact on local residents.
Japan’s Finance Ministry officials will reportedly review and possibly revise the proposal before passing it on to the cabinet.