Japan to allow defense budget requests without specific amounts

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Ground Self-Defense Force’s members fire a howitzer during an exercise.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government plans to allow the Defense Ministry to make budget requests for fiscal 2023 without specifying the requested amounts, informed sources said Saturday.

Under its budget request guidelines for the fiscal year starting in April next year, the government plans to approve the ministry’s requests that only state items of spending, a method used when details of particular policies are not decided at the time ministries and agencies submit their budget requests for the coming fiscal year, the sources said.

In recent cases, the government accepted requests that did not indicate the requested budget amounts for spending on measures against the novel coronavirus as it is difficult to predict the number of people getting infected with the virus.

The government will adopt the budget request guidelines at a cabinet meeting by the end of this month at the earliest after discussions with the ruling camp.

In its annual basic policy for economic and fiscal management adopted at a cabinet meeting last month, the government pointed out that each NATO member state is accelerating efforts to achieve a goal of raising the ratio of its defense budget to at least 2 pct of its gross domestic product.

Also in the policy, the government said it will drastically strengthen the country’s defense capabilities within five years.

In its initial budget for fiscal 2022, the government earmarked a total of ¥5,400.5 billion for defense spending, which accounts for around one percent of the country’s GDP.

The late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot to death during a stump speech on July 8, had called for expanding the country’s defense budget to above ¥6.5 trillion in fiscal 2023.

As for fiscal 2023 budget requests related to programs to realize a new form of capitalism, a signature policy of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the government plans to set up a special quota to intensively promote investment in personnel, startups, science and technology, and green and digital, the sources said.

The Finance Ministry is set to receive budget requests from other ministries and agencies by the end of August and proceed with its budget compilation work toward the end of the year.