TOKYO (Sputnik) — The Japanese Defense Ministry has requested additional 730 million yen (nearly $6.4 million) of budgetary allocation for the next fiscal year, which begins on April 1, 2018, to elaborate a plan for deploying two land-based US missile defense systems, Aegis Ashore, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has announced.
"Besides, we will also elaborate the basic design of the facilities," Onodera said during a press conference, explaining the move as a necessity to "strengthen the ability to constantly protect" the country to due to the repeated missile launches by North Korea.
The statement was made after reports claiming that the Japanese government would decide on the deployment of two land-based Aegis Ashore defense systems on December 19 have started to circulate in media earlier in the day. One of the two complexes is expected to be deployed at the training facility in northern Akita prefecture, while the second one might be deployed in southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture.
In late August, the Japanese Defense Ministry requested a record-high 5.26 trillion yen ($48 billion) for the next fiscal year to enhance the country’s defense capability with a similar explanation.
Japan's moves are connected with the conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which has recently further intensified after North Korea tested a new missile in the last days of November, following ten weeks of silence. Pyongyang has claimed that their new Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) might strike anywhere in the US, and almost anywhere in the world.
At the same time, the Japanese Defense Minister has announced joint drills with South Korea and the US on December 11-12 in the waters near Japan despite UN envoy Jeffrey Feltman's previous warning against the drills, which may, according to him, intensify the conflict.