The Japanese government's National Security Council plans to take the lead in crafting the country's defense military buildup, in a move that would give the prime minister's office more say in selecting defense equipment, a government source said.
The new system aims for a more effective defense budget allocation by top-down decision making, including over new security areas such as cyber and space, in a turnaround from the current format where budget requests by the Self-Defense Forces were taken into account and coordinated, the source said.
The NSC, established in December 2013 under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, formulates Japan's key security policies, with its permanent secretariat set up in the Cabinet Secretariat. It is chaired by the prime minister and attended by the chief Cabinet secretary and defense and foreign ministers to discuss medium- to long-term security policies.
The NSC will introduce the new decision-making system from the next medium-term defense buildup plan for fiscal 2019 to 2023, which is set to be decided at the end of this year, the source said.
Previously, the defense buildup plan, which sets specific targets for defense equipment and funding and is compiled every five years, was approved by the Cabinet after being coordinated between the Finance Ministry and the staff offices of the air, maritime and ground forces.
But a source in the prime minister's office said such a system tended to "fix budget allocations between the three branches of the SDF."
The NSC, meanwhile, will aim to decide on the most appropriate defense buildup by taking into account the military rise of China and the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, as the SDF may need to coordinate with the U.S. military in the event of emergencies on the Korean Peninsula, the source said.
It will likely seek to enhance defense capability in the air and sea against possible missile attacks by North Korea, it said.
Over space, cyberspace and electronic warfare — emerging new security areas in which Japan has been left behind — specialized units to cope with the three areas are expected to be established under a new command.
The NSC also hopes to allocate more funding to increase the number of SDF personnel at the command, the source added.
Abe said at a New Year press conference Thursday his administration will "strive to strengthen our defenses, not just as an extension of existing (practices) but in a way that's truly necessary to protect the citizens."