Japan’s Defense Ministry wants to buy an advanced Aegis radar-equipped destroyer and more F-35 fighters under its largest-ever budget to bolster the defense of southern islands amid a territorial dispute with China.
The ministry endorsed a ¥5.1 trillion ($42 billion) budget request Monday for the year beginning next April, up 2.2 percent from this year. It would be the fourth annual increase under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December 2012 and ended 10 years of defense budget cuts.
Monday was the deadline for all ministries to submit budget requests to the Finance Ministry. The total budget requests for fiscal 2016 exceeded ¥102 trillion ($840 billion), also a record high, according to public broadcaster NHK. The defense budget was the third largest after those from the health and welfare ministry and the transportation ministry, it said.
Abe’s government says Japan needs to bolster its military role amid China’s growing territorial assertiveness and the rising risk of terrorist attacks. Parliament is expected to approve a set of contentious bills to expand Japan’s military role by late September.