Japan seeks biggest-ever defense budget amid China tensions

Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force armoured tanks fire during an annual training session near Mount Fuji at Higashifuji training field in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, August 19, 2014. (Reuters / Yuya Shino)

Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force armoured tanks fire during an annual training session near Mount Fuji at Higashifuji training field in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, August 19, 2014. (Reuters / Yuya Shino)

Japan is looking to boost its defense budget to the biggest it’s ever been, to pay for drones, stealth fighters and a new high-tech submarine amid intensifying military rivalry with China and concerns over North Korea’s missile program.

The Japanese Defense Ministry has asked for a 3.5 percent spending increase to 5.05 trillion yen ($48.7 billion) for the fiscal year beginning next April.The increase includes the realignment of US military forces, which are stationed in Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking a tougher stance on national security and has also ended a ban on Japanese soldiers fighting abroad, as well as easing curbs on weapons exports.

Japan is worried about China’s rapid military build-up. Beijing has overtaken Japan as the world’s second largest economy and China’s defense spending has increased fourfold over the last decade to 808 billion yuan ($132 billion).

Japan is also wary of North Korea. Most of the Japan’s archipelago of islands is within range of North Korea’s Rodong missiles. Last year the Japanese Defense Ministry issued a white …read more