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Japan expands defence budget to $46 billion against North Korea threat

The defence budget rose for the sixth consecutive year, as Tokyo seeks to bolster its military in the face of threats from the regime in Pyongyang

PTI/AFP  |  Tokyo 

Illustration: Ajay Mohanty
Illustration: Ajay Mohanty

Japan's will swell to a record $46 billion for the next fiscal year, the government said today, as the nation shores up its missile shield against the threat posed by The spending was part of an $860-billion national for the fiscal year starting in April, also a record as medical and social welfare costs snowball in Japan's rapidly ageing society. The rose for the sixth consecutive year, as Tokyo seeks to bolster its military in the face of threats from the regime in Pyongyang, which has fired two missiles over the country this year and vowed to "sink" it into the sea. Last month, test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that plunged into the waters of Japan's exclusive economic zone. The extra funding will cover the cost of preparations for introducing the military's Aegis Ashore land-based missile interceptor system. "At a time when is beefing up its ballistic missile capability, we need to strengthen our capability fundamentally," minister Itsunori Onodera said earlier this month. During his first visit to last month, President Donald Trump backed a more militaristic Japan, saying the Pacific ally should buy equipment to protect itself. "It's a lot of jobs for and a lot of safety for Japan," said Trump. also plans to purchase long-range cruise missiles with a range of some 900 kilometers from firms. The move is controversial as Japan's pacifist constitution bans the use of force as a means of settling disputes. Japan's military policy has long been restricted to self-and relies heavily on the to attack enemy territory under the Japan-security alliance. Yukio Edano, head of the biggest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said the offensive missiles will be a "fairly big point of dispute" when lawmakers debate the bill next month. While insisting will maintain the decades-long policy, Abe said he wants to review the country's capability to match it with "the severe reality". "The Abe administration is using North Korea's threats as leverage to upgrade its system," said Akira Kato, professor of politics and regional security at Tokyo's J.

F. Oberlin University. "is expected to continue strengthening its power for now," Kato said.

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First Published: Fri, December 22 2017. 10:57 IST