TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s military has asked Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s new government for its ninth straight annual budget increase, including funds to begin development of an advanced stealth fighter to counter new aircraft being deployed by China.
The Ministry of Defence budget proposal released on Wednesday seeks a 3.3% climb in spending to a record 5.49 trillion yen ($52 billion) for the year starting April 1. Finance ministry officials will review and possibly amend the request before passing it on to Suga’s cabinet.
If approved, the plan would continue a build-up pursued by Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe, that has seen Japan buy planes, missiles and aircraft carriers to give its Self Defence Forces greater range and potency as neighboring China expands its navy and air forces in East Asia.
The latest defence budget request also comes as Japanese policymakers debate whether to arm and train its military to strike