Japan is a wealthy country, but it’s also an expensive country to live in. From the insanely high cost of real estate in big cities to the notorious $6,100 watermelon, things can get pricey in Japan. Weapons, it turns out, are no exception.
Japan has the sixth largest defense budget in the world, yet has only 240,000 military personnel. Where does all the money go? The answer, in part, is it goes to expensive weapons. Very expensive weapons:
MO-120-RT-61 120mm mortar: 4 mortars @ ¥200,000,000. ($500,000.00 USD each.)
Cost of U.S. Equivalent, M120 120mm Heavy Mortar, unknown.
*Exchange rate of $1.00 USD = ¥100. This is a bit high for now. Round down by fifteen percent to reflect the current cost.
It is difficult to justify a Japanese-bought M700 sniper rifle costing ten times more than an American equivalent (which is the same rifle.) Even something as simple as a pistol costs twice as much. And it’s not just foreign imports: a domestically produced Howa Type 89 rifle costs more than three times more than a M16A4 purchased for the U.S. Marine Corps.
When the cost of a MINIMI bought by Japan is five times more than that by the United States, someone is getting ripped off. The MINIMI is not a new design, nor is it complicated, or infrequently made. (Email sent to FN, maker of the MINIMI asking for a comment went unanswered.)
These are all quality weapons, but the pricing is simply unacceptable. The Japanese taxpayer is getting royally jobbed. There is little interest in military matters in Japan and I suspect that these numbers are not widely known. If they were, one would think that outrage would be the only possible reaction.