The Japanese government on Tuesday proposed a record level of defense spending for next year – almost $50 billion – to counter rising influence and aggression from China in the region.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense is requesting 5.48 trillion yen – equivalent to $49.86 billion – starting in April, a 2.6-percent increase over its 2021 amount.
If approved by the finance ministry and Japanese lawmakers later this year, the level for 2022 would be an all-time high and the steepest increase in a decade.
Some of the items included in the budget request include a dozen U.S. made F-35 fighters and funding to develop Japan’s first new domestic fighter jet in three decades. The aircraft is expected to be completed in the 2030s and cost about $40 billion.
Japan’s military also intends to spend some of the money on compact warships and longer-range missiles, and hopes to increase its arsenal of space-related forces.
The budget request will be reviewed by finance ministry officials, who can amend it before sending it to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet for approval. If approved, it would be the largest percentage increase in spending since 2014.
Even if it receives the entire amount, Japan’s military spending pales in comparison to China’s. Beijing plans to hike defense spending next year by almost 7 percent. The Chinese military is about four times larger than Japan’s and is second in size only to the United States.