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Editorial: Enhance efficiency of defense budget with better equipment procurement

  • December 27, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 7:35 p.m.
  • English Press

It is imperative to steadily build defense systems for such new realms as outer space and cyberspace.

 

In its budget proposal for fiscal 2020, the government has allocated a record ¥5,313.3 billion for defense spending, representing an increase of 1.1% from the initial budget for the current fiscal year and marking the eighth consecutive year of year-on-year growth.

 

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump calls for allies to increase defense expenditures so as to compete with China and Russia. Australia, South Korea and European countries have expanded their defense budgets drastically in recent years.

 

Considering North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and China’s continued military buildup with a budget that is nearly four times that of Japan, Tokyo is required to enhance deterrence capabilities by improving military equipment.

 

In its midterm defense buildup plan adopted at the end of 2018, the government set total defense spending for five years from fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2023 at ¥27.47 trillion. Defense budgets must be earmarked in a planned way.

 

While reassessing which equipment may be unnecessary, efforts to enhance the efficiency of equipment should not be neglected.

 

In the budget proposal, emphasis is put on measures to cope with new threats.

 

China and Russia have been developing satellites to attack artificial satellites. If the Self-Defense Forces’ defense system is rendered dysfunctional due to cyber-attacks, it will cause trouble in the operation of SDF ships and planes.

 

In the budget proposal, the government allotted ¥50.6 billion for the introduction of artificial satellites designed for such purposes as monitoring other countries’ satellites, with ¥25.6 billion earmarked for the expansion of defense units against cyber-attacks. It is important to enhance the protection of Japan’s intelligence-gathering satellites and its communication network.

 

As for the budget for the Air Self-Defense Force, spending for the development of a successor aircraft to the F-2 fighter jet has been allocated for the first time. Of about 300 fighters possessed by the ASDF, about 90 are F-2s. Ahead of the 2030s when F-2s will become superannuated, a project is set to be launched to design new models.

 

The Defense Ministry aims for such development to be led by Japan so as to sustain the technology and production base of the domestic defense industry. Taking into consideration joint development with other countries, including the United States and Britain, efforts should be made to curb costs.

 

It is also imperative to take the perspective of flexibly reexamining an equipment system by ascertaining changes in the security environment and the progress of military technology.

It is essential to make continued efforts to reduce procurement costs, too.

 

Expenditures for purchasing cutting-edge equipment under the U.S. government’s foreign military sales program have increased drastically due to such costs as those for the procurement of F-35 fighters. This is because Washington has seized the initiative in deciding on prices.

 

If an importing country takes charge of such procedures as quality control in the procurement process, commissions will be reduced or exempted. The Defense Ministry, however, has not utilized that scheme. The ministry must negotiate with Washington tenaciously to work toward lowering acquisition prices, besides getting commissions reduced or exempted.

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