Japan Eyes Boost in military budget

Japan Eyes Boost in   military budgetJapan Eyes Boost in   military budget

Japan’s Ministry of Defense is seeking a fourth straight annual military budget hike to help fortify the country’s far-flung island chain in the East China Sea, close to ocean territory claimed by Beijing.

In a document submitted to the government on Monday, the ministry asked for a 2.2% increase in military spending to $42.38 billion (¥5.09 trillion) for the year starting in April. If approved, the new defense budget would be Japan’s biggest in 14 years, Reuters reported.

China’s military budget for this year rose 10.1% to $138.37 billion, the second largest in the world after the United States.

Japan’s Defense Ministry will buy AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles made by BAE Systems, F-35 Stealth warplanes made by Lockheed Martin Corp and Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft from Boeing under the budget plan, said the document.

Other purchases would include Global Hawk drones made by Northrop Grumman Corp, mobile missile batteries, helicopters and other kit the military wants to defend island-dotted ocean territory stretching 1,400 kilometers from the Japanese mainland almost to Taiwan.

By bolstering its military presence on islands with radar stations, troop bases or missile batteries Japan could gain a tactical advantage over China, which with far fewer islands under its control in the region would have to rely more on naval vessels or ocean platforms.

Japan and China contest ownership of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called the Senkaku by Tokyo and the Diaoyu by Beijing. Japan administers the chain.