Japan to boost military budget amid China row

Agence France Presse

Published — Tuesday 8 January 2013

Last update 8 January 2013 2:26 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

TOKYO: Japan will increase military spending in 2013 for the first time in more than a decade, the ruling party said Tuesday, as Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador over a simmering territorial row.
The newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party’s national defense task force has decided to boost the defense budget request by more than 100 billion yen ($1.15 billion) in response to an emboldened Beijing, a party official told AFP.
The relatively small amount is likely symbolic, but it reflects anxiety over what Japan sees as an increasingly hostile region, where China is seen as throwing its weight around.
“We have decided that the additional budget will be used for research into a new radar system as well as fuel and other maintenance costs for early-warning aircraft,” the official said.
The news came as the foreign ministry called in China’s ambassador to protest over the latest dispatch of official vessels into waters around the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.
The summoning was the first under nationalistic Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and reflects the tough line he pushed on China on the campaign trail in December.
It also comes amid disquiet over unpredictable Pyongyang, which sent a rocket over Japan’s southern islands last month in what it insisted was a satellite launch, but Tokyo and its allies said was a ballistic missile test.
Japan’s military is bound by the country’s US-imposed pacifist constitution, which restricts its ability to project power or to wage aggressive war.
However, commentators say it is a modern, well-funded and well-equipped force.
In the run-up to last month’s election, the LDP pledged to expand the number of personnel in the Self-Defense Forces, as well as boost their equipment and budget.
The proposed increase in funding comes after declines over 10 consecutive years that reflect efforts to cut public spending as Tokyo grapples with its huge public debt.
The initial defense budget for fiscal 2012 that ends in March stood at 4.65 trillion yen. This compares with a budget for fiscal 2002 that peaked at 4.94 trillion yen.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has said Abe’s government will review Japan’s long-term basic defense program, which was adopted in 2010 under the Democratic Party of Japan. The DPJ was routed at the polls.
The current basic defense program stipulates “Japan will seek to curb personnel costs and improve efficiency” with plans to trim troop numbers by around 1,000.
Abe has pledged to boost ties with key ally the United States and other democracies in the region including Australia and India as a counterbalance to the rising economic and military power China.
The United States stations some 47,000 troops in the world’s third-largest economy in a legacy from World War II, after which Japan was stripped of its right to maintain a full-fledged military.
The alliance enjoys broad support among Japanese leaders but tensions have repeatedly flared with residents of communities that host US bases, particularly on the sub-tropical island chain of Okinawa.
A rise in defense spending will likely be welcomed in Washington, which has called for Tokyo to shoulder more of the burden of regional security.
However, any attempt to reinforce Japan’s military has traditionally been eyed with suspicion by countries that fell victim to Tokyo’s wartime rampage, with China and the two Korea’s often vociferous in their criticism.
Domestically, the pacifism policy enjoys widespread support and voters are often suspicious of moves that can be interpreted as re-arming.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has announced new legislation for the Dec. 12 elections, including fines and imprisonment for failure to disclose candidate financing, obstructing procedures or officials, and fraudulent activity.Vi...
JEDDAH: The low turnout of Saudis registering for the municipal elections is likely caused by the poor performance of previous councils, lack of a voting culture, inadequate understanding of the duties of councils, and the timing of the elections wit...
JEDDAH: The Foundation of Pilgrim Guides for Non-Arab African Countries plans to create 5,000 seasonal jobs during this year’s Haj, said Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar on Tuesday. Hajjar said the foundation adopted an operational plan to provide quali...
JEDDAH: Qassim Gov. Prince Faisal bin Mishaal bin Saud held talks with Indian diplomats on strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations.“The foundation of Saudi-Indian ties is very strong,” said Indian Charge d’Affaires Hemant Kotalwar during...
JEDDAH: The extreme heat and business hours of the Kingdom leave very little time for residents to enjoy leisurely activities away from home. The only convenient time that remains is the evening, a time when cool breezes sweep through Jeddah and the...
DAMMAM: The glistening sea, unique islands, majestic mountains and vast plains make Jazan a diverse and memorable place to visit. Additionally, its forests, lakes, and waterfalls offer picturesque places for visitors to relax and enjoy nature. On the...

Stay Connected