Japan plans a record $46 billion defense budget for the next fiscal year due to the threat posed by North Korea’s missile program, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The government is expected to set aside 5.19 trillion yen for defense in the country's initial budget proposal for the fiscal year starting April 2018, the Nikkei daily said.
It will mark the sixth straight year of increases in defense outlays, topping the 5.12 trillion yen budget for the current fiscal year, the business daily said.
According to the report, much of the increase will go on protecting Japan against North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development.
The extra funding will cover the cost of preparations for introducing the US military's Aegis Ashore land-based missile interceptor system, the Nikkei said.
Last week Japan's defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, said the country plans to purchase long-range cruise missiles with a range of some 900 kilometers (560 miles) from US firms.
The move is controversial as Japan's pacifist constitution bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
The report came as North Korea's friends and enemies joined forces Friday in opposing its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — but the North gave no sign of budging on its nuclear ambitions.
In a very rare appearance by a North Korean at the UN Security Council, Ambassador Ja Song Nam told a ministerial meeting that the country's possession of nuclear weapons was "an inevitable self-defensive measure" to defend the country against "the US nuclear threat and blackmail."
Ja never mentioned the possibility of talks. Instead, he called the council meeting "a desperate measure plotted by the US being terrified by the incredible might of our republic that has successfully achieved the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force."
He pointed to the Nov. 29 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say could reach the US mainland.