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Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005

BUDGET FOR PREPAREDNESS

Defense Agency wants 5 trillion yen


Staff writer

The Defense Agency on Wednesday requested 4.89 trillion yen in the fiscal 2006 budget to increase the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces to counter threats to national security, including acts of terrorism, missile attacks and natural disasters.

The budget request, up 1.2 percent from the current fiscal year, is in line with the new National Defense Program Outline and a fiscal 2005-2009 defense buildup plan endorsed by the Cabinet in December.

The agency asked for 150 billion yen for a ballistic missile defense system, an increase of 25 percent from 120 billion yen in the current fiscal year.

The BMD fund request includes 3 billion yen for research and development costs for next-generation sea-based interceptor missiles.

The interceptor missile system project, being undertaken with the United States, is scheduled to reach the development phase in the next fiscal year.

The agency plans to use the BMD funds to upgrade the third of four destroyers equipped with the Aegis air-defense system and to carry out the first missile interception test for the sea-based Standard Missile 3 interceptor next fiscal year off Hawaii.

It also wants to spend 18.8 billion yen to purchase the advanced early-warning radar system FPS-XX, which will be a key component of Japan's missile defense system.

Japan and the U.S. launched joint research in 1999 after North Korea fired a long-range missile in August 1998 over Japan.

The two nations will conclude a new pact on the project after Japan's Security Council endorses the plan in December, Defense Agency officials said.

A request has been made for 80.6 billion yen to purchase wide-range monitoring devices to detect vessels approaching Japanese territorial waters and short-distance monitors to detect intruders inside Japanese waters.

The agency also plans to purchase equipment for P-3C patrol planes to detect and identify submarines in the wake of the intrusion in November of a submerged Chinese submarine into Japanese territorial waters.

The agency asked for 237 billion yen to cover costs to support U.S. forces stationed in Japan, but the amount could change if Tokyo and Washington come up with a new agreement, agency officials said.

The government reportedly is negotiating with Washington to slash Japan's costs of hosting the U.S. forces. The current Special Measures Agreement, covering Japan's financial responsibility, expires in March.

The SDF plans to create a joint chiefs of staff by the end of the current fiscal year to promote integrated operations of its three branches.

The Ground Self-Defense Force will organize a new unit of about 600 officers aimed at gathering intelligence. The reorganization reflects December's new National Defense Program Outline, which calls for the Defense Agency and the SDF to boost intelligence-gathering.

The agency will also form new GSDF divisions and post agency officials at their various installations to coordinate policies and to liaise with local governments in an event of a natural disaster or other emergency.

The government in March endorsed a basic guideline to protect the public and property in the event of a military-related emergency. Local governments must in turn map out their own plans by the end of next March.



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