Japan seeks biggest defence budget rise in 22 years
TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's Defence Ministry said on Friday that it was seeking a three per cent increase in next year's budget allocation, the biggest rise in 22 years, with most of the growth linked to revised personnel costs and equipment imports made more expensive by a weaker yen.
The budget request for the year from April 2014 comes as Japan remains locked in a territorial spat with China over uninhabited East China Sea islets, fraying ties between Asia's two biggest economies and raising security concerns.
Saddled with hefty public debt, Japan had been cutting its defence spending in recent years. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who returned to power last December for a rare second term pledging to stand tough in the islands row, increased this year's defence budget for the first time in 11 years.
The ministry said it planned to request 4.82 trillion yen (S$62.6 billion) in budget appropriations, up three per cent from the current year.