Japan in record military spending amid Chinese tensions
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has signed off a record defence budget in the face of territorial disputes with China and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
Spending on fighter jets and submarines are partly behind the increase to 5.13 trillion yen (£35.2bn, $43.6bn).
A separate coastguard budget will also be raised sharply.
The plans are part of a 97.5tn yen budget for the financial year starting 1 April 2017.
Japan’s parliament must still approve the budget, but if approved it would be the fifth consecutive rise in the defence budget.
A rising social security bill to fund the cost of services for an ageing population is already putting increasing pressure on the country’s economy, and the extra defence and coastguard spending will add to Japan’s debt.
Rising tension with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea has led to Japan’s coastguard budget being raised to 210bn yen ($1.8bn) next year – up from 187.7bn yen.
Coastguard vessels from both countries routinely shadow each other near the uninhabited islands which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.
Five new large patrol ships, and 200 more maritime law enforcement staff are among the spending plans.
Meanwhile, the country’s ballistic missile defence system will also be upgraded in response to advances in North Korea’s programme.