Japan is set to raise military spending in 2013 for the first time in over a decade amid a simmering territorial row with a increasingly aggressive China.
The defence ministry is seeking 180.5 billion yen ($2.1 billion) following the government’s announcement that it would boost the defence budget to more than 100 billion yen as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stimulus package, which is aimed at reviving the country’s languishing economy.
The relatively small increase – just over 2% of the total military budget – would be used for research into a new radar system, maintenance costs for military aircraft and purchases of surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile systems and fighter jets. The funds are needed “to prepare for the changing security environment surrounding Japan,” a spokesman from the ministry said.
This comes as the region becomes increasingly hostile provoked by a territorial dispute and a long-range rocket launch.
Tokyo summoned Beijing’s envoy to protest the presence of Chinese vessels into waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that patrols were “normal” because the islands, known as Diaoyu in China, are Chinese territory.
The North Korean rocket launch, which the US and other nations sees as a cover for banned missile tests, has also wracked the region.