RPT-Japan defence budget focuses on tackling new threats

(Repeats to additional subscribers)

* Overall defence budget trimmed by 0.4 pct

* Funding obtained to deal with new threats

* Funding comes after China spat, shelling by N.Korea

By Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO, Dec 24 (BestGrowthStock) – Japan’s Defence Ministry obtained
funding to tackle new threats in the nation’s latest budget as
Tokyo seeks to deal with military expansion in China and North
Korea’s nuclear ambitions, although overall defence spending was
trimmed.

Japan last week unveiled a sweeping update of its national
defence policies, aiming for greater flexibility and refocusing
its capabilities as it tries to cope with changes in regional
security.

The new guidelines followed North Korea’s revelation of a
uranium enrichment programme and deadly artillery shelling on
South Korea, as well as Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese
territorial disputes.

Under the new budget, it gained funds for research into
making its armed forces more mobile and for deploying troops on
islands in the southwest, where it shares a maritime border with
China.

But Japan’s massive public debt meant the nation’s defence
budget for the year beginning in April was shaved 0.4 percent to
to 4.66 trillion yen ($56.2 billion), its ninth year of decline
and a 6 percent fall when compared with 2002, a recent peak year.

By contrast, China’s defence budget has nearly quadrupled
over the past decade, while Russia’s defence budget has jumped
almost ninefold, according to Japan’s annual defence white paper.

“Given the situation, we seem to have secured what’s
necessary. I can give it a passing grade, if not a full mark,” a
Defence Ministry official, who declined to be identified, told a
briefing.

As Japan shifts its resources from the army to the air force
and navy, it plans to cut the number of light armored vehicles it
procures by 40 percent to 56 units next year, while earmarking
700 million yen for research related to the selection of
next-generation combat aircraft.

Most of the funds will be used to obtain data on the F-35
Joint Strike Fighter, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin
Corp (LMT.N: ) and others, the ministry official said.
(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

RPT-Japan defence budget focuses on tackling new threats