JAPAN WANTS $1.6B IN WEAPONS TO SHOOT NORTH KOREA’S MISSILES DOWN
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C), Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso (2nd R) and Defence Minister Gen Nakatani (2nd L) walk with Chris Bolt, the captain of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered super carrier, as they visit the aircraft carrier at Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo in this photo released by Kyodo October 18, 2015.
Japan is loading up its missile defense systems days after North Korea lobbed an intermediate-range rocket over one of its islands.
The defense ministry proposed record military spending on Thursday that included $1.6 billion for high-tech radar and weapons to shoot missiles out of the sky.
The request follows the launch of a North Korean missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido Tuesday, which prompted Japanese authorities to send an emergency text to civilians under the projectile’s path advising them to seek cover.
Pyongyang’s latest provocation didn’t sit well with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called the test “utterly intolerable,” and promised to “protect the lives of the people.”
The proposed 2.5 percent increase for Japan’s defense budget would bring overall military spending to a record 5.26 trillion yen ($48 billion). If approved, the budget would represent the sixth straight annual increase under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has reversed years of cuts to the military.
Defense spending, and the military in general, remain controversial in Japan, where many still support the country’s pacifist constitution imposed by the United States after WW2. The text specifies that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintained.”
Yet since coming to power, Abe has regularly evoked Japan’s military strength, pouring billions into new jets and missile systems and proposing that the pacifist language in the constitution be repealed by 2020.
On Wednesday, North Korean state media called the missile over Japan the “the first step” in new military operations in the Pacific, and renewed threats against the U.S. territory of Guam, calling the Pacific island “an advanced base of invasion.”