Japan has added $6.75 billion to its budget for the military, with its aim to bolster air and sea defences in a fast-changing world.
The largest single increase since the end of World War II adds $1.25 billion to the defense budget approved in July, with the spending to run from January to March 2020.
Under the defence budget plan, the budget for land-based missile defence will reach an allocation of more than $1.3 billion. A further $300 million will be added to defense spending on unmanned surveillance drones and hypersonic missiles.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long pushed for increased military spending in a bid to bolster Japan’s overseas security capability.
Japan’s government wants to equip the country’s Defence Forces with powerful air-to-air missiles capable of countering China’s growing ability to conduct surveillance or intercept Japanese jets.
Japan and China trade accusations
The increasing military defense spending comes as Japan and China trade accusations over fishing boats and Chinese vessels landing on Japanese controlled islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
China on Thursday made its latest complaint about Japanese coastguard ships in the area, this time claiming “thousands” of “land-based warships” and submarines in the Senkaku and Diaoyu islands, almost one-fifth of the world’s vessels.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long pushed for increased military spending in a bid to bolster Japan’s overseas security capability.
“China needs to realize the prime minister’s security thinking,” said Naoki Omori, professor at Keio University in Tokyo. “We might be able to establish a multilateral capability [and] China needs to think how to cooperate.”
Japan is involved in six ongoing sea patrols, defending territorial waters and a disputed islet in the East China Sea.
“It’s just basic security,” Omori said, but it was nevertheless “important to the peace and security of East Asia.”
China has repeatedly criticised Japan’s military spending and plans to bolster its capability to act overseas.
In October, China’s Foreign Ministry said it would “respond firmly” to Japan’s “harassment” of its vessels and aircraft in the disputed waters.