Japan's defense budget hike reflects Abe's desire to confront China

By Lu Wen’ao Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/23 0:18:39

Spending hike reflects Abe’s desire to confront China

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet Thursday approved the country's biggest annual defense budget, which Chinese analysts said shows Abe's hawkish desire to confront China, which will further disrupt the already unstable Sino-Japanese relations.

The new budget of 5.13 trillion yen ($43.6 billion) in defense spending for the fiscal year starting in April was hiked by 1.4 percent from the initial budget for the current fiscal year.

Hu Lingyuan, a professor at the Japanese Research Center of Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times that Abe has hyped the so-called China threat theory to realize his personal ambitions.

"Abe has exaggerated the so-called China threat to achieve his personal political goal: the revision of constitution," Hu noted, adding that confronting China will only destabilize current Sino-Japanese ties.

Japan's new security laws coming into effect this year have made it possible for Japanese troops to fight abroad since the end of World War II.

Though the defense allocation is just part of a record 97.5 trillion yen national budget that will be sent to parliament for debate and approval early next year, Hu believed it is unlikely to be blocked by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-dominated National Diet.

Japan's defense budget hike often draws attention of its Asian neighbors due to the country's notoriously aggressive role during WWII. The current hike marks the fifth straight annual increase and reflects Abe's attempt to build up Japan's military, which has been constitutionally limited to self-defense after WWII.

The defense budget increase is an indication of Japan's attempt to limit China, according to Wang Ping, a research fellow with the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Abe wants Japan to boost military presence in Asia as well as worldwide," Wang said. "He is seeking to cooperate with the US to limit China's actions in East Asia."

Under the new budget, the ministry aims to beef up Japan's ballistic missile defenses, allocating funds for a new interceptor missile under joint development with the US.

What the spending also reflects is Tokyo's determination to "confront" China over the Diaoyu Islands issue.

If Tokyo continues its combative posture, it would only increase the risk of a clash between China and Japan, Hu added.

The Japan Coast Guard will increase security around the Diaoyu Islands by allocating a record 210 billion yen, which includes two new patrol ships and 200 more personnel.

Earlier in December, two Japanese F-15 fighters fired decoy flares at Chinese military aircraft engaged in routine training in the Miyako Strait, even though China did not violate the international law.

Agencies contributed to the story.

Newspaper headline: Japan’s defense budget causes concern

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