22 December 2016 Current Affairs: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved approved 5.13 trillion yen ($43.6 billion) in defence spending for the fiscal year starting in April 2017.
It is Japan’s highest annual defence budget announced so far. It is up by 1.4% from the initial budget for the current fiscal year. Now it will be sent to Parliament (Diet) for debate and approval.
Under the new budget, Japan aims to beef up its ballistic missile defences, allocating funds for a new interceptor missile under joint development with the United States. It also earmarks funds to dispatch extra personnel to the Philippines and Vietnam to increase gathering and sharing of information.
The funds have been increased monitoring operations and to maintain mastery of air and sea to counter attacks against “island areas” which are disputed territory. Separately, Japanese Coast Guard will increase security around the islands by allocating a record 210 billion yen, which includes two new patrol ships and the hiring of 200 more personnel.
It marks the fifth straight annual increase in annual defence budget in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and a territorial row with China. Japan is on constant alert against neighbouring North Korea, a rouge nuclear state which has conducted two underground nuclear tests and more than 20 missile launches in the year 2016.
The defence budget rise also reflects the hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to build up Japan’s military, which since World War II has been constitutionally limited to self defence. PM Abe is also pushing revisions to the pacifist constitution of Japan, strongly backed new security laws for making it possible for Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since the end of the war.
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