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Tokyo to raise military budget

TOKYO: Japan will raise military spending this year for the first time in over a decade under a ruling party plan, an official said yesterday, as Tokyo summoned Beijing’s envoy in a territorial row.
The national defense task force of the newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party will increase the defense budget request by more than 100 billion yen ($ 1.15 billion) in response to an emboldened China, a party official told AFP.
The relatively small amount — just over two percent of the total military budget — is largely symbolic, but reflects anxiety at what Japan sees as an increasingly hostile region in which China appears happy to throw its weight about.
“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 on condition of anonymity.
The news came as the Foreign Ministry called in China’s ambassador to protest at the latest dispatch of official vessels into waters around the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.
The summons was the first under nationalistic Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and is in line with the tough stance he pushed on China on the campaign trail in December.
Beijing, however, rebuffed the move. Hong Lei, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing patrols were “normal” because the islands are Chinese territory.