Tokyo seeks to raise defence budget

Published: 4:02 AM, August 31, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, September 2, 2013

Japan’s Defence Ministry said yesterday it was seeking a 3 per cent increase in next year’s budget allocation, the biggest rise in 22 years, with most of the growth linked to revised personnel costs and equipment imports made more expensive by a weaker yen.

The ministry will request an increase in spending to ¥4.82 trillion (S$63 billion) for the financial year starting in April, it said.

After taking office in December, Mr Abe approved a 0.8 per cent increase in defence spending for the current year, the first rise in 11 years.

The budget request comes as Japan’s dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea has heated up since the Japanese government bought three of them from a private owner last September, fraying ties between Asia’s two biggest economies and raising security concerns.

The Japanese ministry’s request for a 3 per cent increase contrasts with 10.7 per cent growth in China’s military budget this year to 740.6 billion yuan (S$154 billion).

Spending plans by Japan’s Defence Ministry for the next fiscal year include research on unmanned high-altitude surveillance planes and tilt-rotor aircraft, with actual purchases tentatively planned for the following year.

The ministry also aims to set up a Marines force and earmark ¥1.5 billion next year to introduce training facilities to improve its members’ amphibious capabilities. Japan’s Coast Guard, whose ships are playing cat-and-mouse with Chinese vessels around the disputed islets, is requesting a 13 per cent increase in funding to ¥196.3 billion as it builds new patrol ships and piers. Agencies