Japan to boost defence spending for fifth successive year

22 Dec 16

Japan’s government has approved record military spending of 5.13 trillion yen ($43.66bn) for 2017-18 – the fifth consecutive annual increase in the defence budget.

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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's government has moved to increase the country's defence budget again - for the fifth year in a row.

The cabinet, led by prime minister Shinzo Abe, signed off on the increase for the financial year starting in April amid growing tensions in the east China sea and nuclear and ballistic threats from North Korea.

Amid a flagging economy already struggling to fund services for Japan’s ageing population, the big defence bill is likely to add to the country’s notorious debt burden.

In 2015, Japanese public debt stood at a 248% of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund. Meanwhile, the country posted a deficit of 6% of GDP – a figure that is falling, but not as quickly as hoped.

Since coming to power in 2012, Abe has launched initiatives to bring down the debt burden, improve the public finances and jumpstart the economy.

However, increasingly tense territorial disputes with China have led to increased defence spending, while Japan is also on alert over the growing frequency of North Korean missile tests. The country is upgrading its defences as the North Korea’s ballistic missile programme advances.

This year’s 1.4% defence spending increase marks the fifth year of growth in the country’s military budget, and follows a 1.5% increase for 2016-17. Since 2012, Japanese defence spending has increased by almost 9%, after a decade worth of cuts.

While approved by the Japanese cabinet, the country’s parliament still needs to sign off on the government’s plans. 

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