Japan's Ministry of National Defense has requested an 8.3% jump in its fiscal year 2021-2022 defense budget, the largest in two decades, to strengthen the country's military capabilities in outer space and cyberspace.
Japan's current defense guidelines emphasize the strategic importance of these new domains in future warfare. These warfare domains can "fundamentally change the shape of (Japan's) national security," according to current defense thinking.
Over the past decades, Japan has focused almost exclusively on meeting conventional ground, sea and air threats to its national security. On the other hand, there will also be significant funding in the new budget to meet the challenges wrought by North Korea and China.
The ministry announced the $51.9 billion (¥5.48 trillion) draft budget Wednesday afternoon. This will be the ninth straight year Japan's defense spending has risen. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to stay the course of massive military upgrading charted by his predecessor, Abe Shinzo.
The ministry requested $1.17 billion (¥123.7 billion) compared to the $123 million (¥104.7 billion) it sought in FY 2019-2020 for outer space capabilities. The new money will go to research costs for an optical telescope that will detect and monitor unidentified objects. Funding will also be set aside for a new military satellite constellation to detect hypersonic weapons launched by China and Russia.
The ministry said the huge increase will also help the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) strengthen its capabilities to combat new military threats. There will now be more focus on cyber warfare, space and electromagnetic warfare to disrupt enemy command and control.
Conspicuous new spending will be the $690 million to expand the JSDF's space unit and its Space Situational Awareness surveillance system.
The new unit, the Space Operations Squadron, is under the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). Launched last May, the squadron is now monitoring and protecting Japanese civilian and military satellites from enemy attacks and space debris. It will also provide satellite-based information for Japanese troops in the field.
JSDF will spend $340 million to add muscle to the new Cyber Defense Group (its cyberspace defense unit) and electromagnetic warfare capabilities. Last year's budget for this unit came to $226 million.
The Cyber Defense Group and its 540 members are in charge of protecting Japan's security in this domain. The JSDF will bolster its electronic warfare capabilities by establishing a specialized unit of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) at the Asaka base along the border of the Tokyo and Saitama Prefectures.