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Japan seeks highest ever defence budget as Abe bolsters military

Published on Aug 29, 2014 11:23 AM
A Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force surveillance plane flying around disputed islands in the East China Sea in 2011. Japan's defence planners are seeking its biggest budget ever for the coming fiscal year, including a bulk order of patrol planes and a stealthier submarine. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japan’s defence planners are seeking their biggest budget ever for the coming fiscal year to pay for stealth fighters, drones and a hi-tech submarine, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bolsters the military amid an intensifying rivalry with China.

The Defence Ministry on Friday requested a 3.5 per cent increase to 5.05 trillion yen (S$60.8 billion) for the year starting next April.

If approved, this third increase in a row will more than reverse the decade of cuts that Abe ended after coming to office in December 2012.

The hawkish premier, taking a more assertive stance on national security, has also ended a ban on Japanese soldiers fighting abroad and eased curbs on weapons exports.

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