The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has decided to request budget allocations totaling 810.1 billion yen for FY19. This represents an increase of 113.4 billion yen over its initial FY18 budget in light of many international conferences and major events to be attended by foreign dignitaries taking place next year. However, MOFA has not requested allocations for the procurement of an aircraft for use by cabinet ministers, which is strongly advocated by Foreign Minister Taro Kono, on account of cost effectiveness.
This will be the first time for MOFA’s budget request to exceed 800 billion yen in 14 years, or since FY05. Expenditures of 34.5 billion yen for organizing international conferences and major events inflated the budget request.
Specifically, 24.7 billion yen is requested for the G20 Summit in Osaka City in June 2019; 8.5 billion yen for entertaining foreign dignitaries attending the new emperor’s enthronement ceremony in October; and 1.2 billion yen for hosting TICAD VII in Yokohama in August.
While Kono is keen on procuring an aircraft for cabinet members’ exclusive use to enable them to make overseas visits more flexibly, one airplane costs “around 10 billion yen” (according to a MOFA source) and maintenance will also be costly. Therefore, MOFA has decided not to make a request for this. However, there has been a significant increase in requested allocations for aircraft charter, from 70 million yen in the FY18 budget to 960 million yen.
MOFA is requesting 496.6 billion yen for official development assistance (ODA), up by 62.1 billion yen from the FY18 budget. This is meant to give concrete shape to the “strategy for a free and open Indo-Pacific” covering the Southeast Asian nations and island states on the critical sea lane for Japan’s oil imports from the Middle East.