TOKYO, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa agreed Tuesday to set at 23.49 trillion yen (281.48 billion U.S. dollars) the total budget for the next midterm defense buildup program during the fiscal 2011-15 period.
The defense budget for the next five years has been scaled down from the previous figure for fiscal 2005-2009 of about 24.24 trillion yen (290.46 billion dollars), officials said.
But Kitazawa said at a recent press conference that he intends to maintain an effective defense capability in spite of the budget cut.
As part of the cost-saving measures, the new National Defense Program Guidelines to be adopted, set out that the number of Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) personnel will be reduced by 1, 000 to 154,000. The 1,000-troop reduction is set as a goal to be accomplished within the next 10 years.
The Finance Ministry had requested that GSDF capacity be reduced due to the government's strained fiscal circumstances.
"We were able to share the understanding that even under current strained financial circumstances, we need to maintain effective defense capabilities," Kitazawa said, referring to the GSDF's current restructuring.
Under the current guidelines, which were enacted in 2004, it was decided that the GSDF be comprised of 148,000 regular personnel and 7,000 ready reserve personnel.
Separately, Japan and the United States have agreed to keep Tokyo's spending on hosting U.S. bases in fiscal 2011 and beyond at the current level, Kitazawa said Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference, the Japanese defense minister said that he finds the agreed level "reasonable" for the time being.
The new bilateral accord on Tokyo's contribution, officially known as host-nation support, will cover a five-year period until fiscal 2015.