Japan raises defence spending budget

Tokyo, Dec 24 : Japanese cabinet Tuesday approved a record-high 95.88 trillion yen (about $922 billion) budget for fiscal 2014, of which the defence spending was up 2.8 percent, marking the second straight year of rise.

The defence budget stands at 4,884.8 billion yen, up 131 billion yen from the initial budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013 through March, reported Xinhua citing Kyodo News.

As fiscal 2014 becomes the first year of Tokyo's five-year defence buildup plan, Japan would spend plenty of money on military hardware.

According to the Kyodo News report, about 63.8 billion yen will be earmarked for the purchase of four F-35 stealth fighter jets, and 38.3 billion yen to buy equipment and train personnel to fly the fighter jets. The total number of F-35s will eventually rise to 42 under the medium-term plan.

In addition, the country will allocate 1.7 billion yen to purchase two amphibious vehicles and 100 million yen to study the introduction of the US military's Osprey transport aircraft as 17 units are scheduled to join the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) under the medium-term defence buildup plan.

In fiscal 2014, 15.8 billion yen will be spent to prepare for the dispatch of a SDF coast observation unit to one of the Nansei Island chain, Yonaguni, and 133 SDF members will be added for surveillance over the Nansei Islands.

The defence budget does not include costs to build a replacement facility within Okinawa Prefecture to relocate the US military's Futenma air station in densely populated Ginowan to an offshore area in Nago, as Tokyo is seeking local approval to go ahead with the plan.

The cabinet stressed that the purpose of increasing defence budget was to bolster surveillance and defence capabilities. While considering the newly approved aggressive national security strategy and defence guideline, however, the intention indeed is not that simple. The act to further expand the country's military might increase regional concerns about its right-leaning politics and surging nationalism.

--IANS (Posted on 24-12-2013)

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