Japan to raise military spending again

Members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces stand guard near Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-to-air missiles, deployed at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo. (File photo)

Tokyo has decided to inject an extra USD 2.1 billion into its military spending, one day after announcing a separate increase of USD 1.15 billion.

A Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman made the announcement on Wednesday, highlighting that the extra cash is separate from a requested raise in the military budget for the next fiscal year that was called for on Tuesday.

“We will request 180.5 billion yen (USD 2.1 billion) to be allocated to military spending from a stimulus package,” the official said, adding that Tokyo would use some of the money to purchase PAC-3 surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile systems and to renovate four F-15 fighter jets.

On Tuesday, the East Asian nation’s newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party had announced that the country planned to increase its defense budget by more than 100 billion yen (USD 1.15 billion) for the first time in more than a decade in the next fiscal year, which starts from April.

Japan’s announcements for the increased military spending came amid a bitter territorial row with Beijing.

Japan and China remain locked in an ongoing territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan under the name Senkakus, but claimed by China as the Diaoyus.

On Tuesday, the Japanese government summoned China’s envoy to Tokyo Cheng Yonghua to protest at the presence of Chinese ships in waters around the disputed islands claimed by both nations.

The Tuesday protest move came a day after four state-owned Chinese surveillance ships entered the waters surrounding the islands.

Tensions heightened between the two countries after Japan signed a deal on September 11, 2012 to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago.

The spokesman also highlighted that out of 180.5 billion yen, the ministry intends to employ 60.5 billion yen to “prepare for the changing security environment surrounding Japan.”

The owner of the islands would have exclusive oil, mineral, and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.

Japan’s Finance Ministry should approve the request for funds before it could be officially included in the stimulus that the government wants to announce later in January.

MR/HJL