19 Dec 2013

Japan to boost defence spending

5:57 am on 19 December 2013

Japan is to increase defence spending and transform its military forces in response to what it sees as a growing threat from China.

Over the next five years, Japan will buy hardware including drones, stealth aircraft and amphibious vehicles.

The military will also build a new marine unit, an amphibious force capable of retaking islands.

The BBC reports Tokyo is embroiled in a bitter row with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea that both claim.

Japan earlier increased defence spending in January, after a decade of cuts.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also established a National Security Council to oversee key issues.

Spending over the next five years is expected to amount to 23.97 trillion yen ($US232 billion), a rise of 2.6%.

Japan plans to buy anti-missile destroyers, submarines, 52 amphibious vehicles, surveillance drones, US fighter planes and 17 Boeing Osprey aircraft, capable of vertical take-off.

The United States currently guarantees Japan's defence, with a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 50,000 troops stationed there.

Japan ranks fifth in the world for military spending, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. China is in second place behind the United States.