TOKYO Dec 22 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe's government on Thursday approved an increase in defence
spending to record levels to counter growing Chinese military
power in the East China Sea and an escalating North Korean
ballistic missile threat.
Abe's cabinet on Thursday signed off on a 1.4 percent
increase in spending to 5.13 trillion yen ($43.66 billion) for
the year starting April 1.
If approved by lawmakers, which is highly likely given the
ruling Liberal Democratic Party's control of parliament, it will
be the fifth straight annual increase in outlays.
Under Abe, Japan's Self Defense Forces are pivoting away
from guarding the nation's north to reinforce an island chain
stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) along the southern edge of the
East China Sea.
That means fewer tank divisions in favour of building a
mobile force equipped with hardware such as tilt-rotor Osprey
carriers, ships, amphibious vehicles and mobile missile
Japan is also spending more to upgrade its ballistic missile
defence, in response to advances in North Korea's ballistic
($1 = 117.5100 yen)
(Reporting by Tim Kelly)