The Japanese government has decided up increase its defense budget for the first time since 2002. This is in light of the growing tensions with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
According to sources, the government will add 60 billion yen ($687.13 million U.S.) to the 4.71 trillion yen ($53.94 billion U.S.) budget for its Self Defense Force (SDF) that was allocated by the previous government. This will bring defense spending to 4.77 trillion yen ($54.43 billion U.S.), which is the same budget it formulated before the now ruling Liberal Democratic Party was ousted in 2009. The highest budget ever allocated to defense was 4.96 trillion yen ($56.6 billion U.S.) in 2002. The budget increase comes was part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign to strengthen Japan’s military and move the country away from its pacifist image. It is also in response to the growing number of intrusions by Chinese vessels into the waters and airspace claimed by both countries. On January 5, Abe called the Defense Minister and leaders of the Japanese Coast Guard to have them be prepared to ensure that there are no violations of Japanese territory.
Abe had also ordered the Minister of Defense to ramp up the operations of fighters in the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) to safeguard Japanese airspace. In December last year, a Chinese naval aircraft was sighted flying over the disputed islands, followed by four other flights in December. JASDF fighters have been dispatched in each occurrence.[ via The Hankyoreh ]