Photo/Illutration The Defense Ministry in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The Defense Ministry plans to request its largest budget ever for fiscal 2024, roughly a 12 percent increase from the record spending approved for the current fiscal year, according to government and ruling party sources.

The ministry will ask for 7.7 trillion yen ($52.75 billion) for the fiscal year that begins in April 2024, which is almost 1 trillion yen more than the previous budget earmarked in the initial budget plan for fiscal 2023. 

The tentative budget includes 930 billion yen to procure a sufficient munitions stockpile for prolonged armed conflicts, as well as 380 billion yen to build two Aegis-equipped destroyers.

The two ships will play a central role in an offshore missile defense system to replace the land-based Aegis Ashore proposal, which was scrapped in 2020 due to safety and technical challenges.

The government previously decided to boost total defense spending for the five years to fiscal 2027 to 43 trillion yen, more than 1.5 times the previous amount.

The revision was announced in December 2022, when the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida revised three key security policy documents in response to growing security challenges in the region, including China’s military rise and North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

The new budget will also cover costs associated with a joint headquarters to command all three branches of the country’s armed forces: the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces.

Ministry officials plan to launch the new command by March 2025.

The joint headquarters, staffed with around 240 officials, will be based in Tokyo’s Ichigaya area, where the ministry is located.