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Japan"s military spending will rise 1.3 percent to a record 5.2 trillion yen ($46 billion), under a defense budget approved by the Cabinet on Friday.
The budget for the year starting in April means Japan"s military spending has kept rising for six consecutive years. Such spending has grown about 10 percent since Japan"s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012, Bloomberg said.
Zhang Xiaolei, associate researcher at the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said rises in military spending were a constant feature of Abe"s rule.
As Tokyo approved three documents for defense in 2013, each of which required vast outlays, Zhang said he expects the country"s military spending to continue rising.
"We can"t exclude the possibility that Japan may introduce the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, as Seoul did," Zhang said. "Japan always uses the nuclear issue relating to the Democratic People"s Republic of Korea as a reason to amend its own defense policy.
"Existing weapons and equipment have surpassed Japan"s real national defense needs. Its Aegis Ashore is not a pure defense system and doesn"t target a certain country, but the whole Asia-Pacific region."
Japan"s Cabinet also approved a 235 billion yen extra defense budget for the current fiscal year, of which about 62 billion yen will be spent on missile defense.
A third layer of ballistic-missile defense and Japan"s first long-range missiles are on Tokyo"s shopping list.
The government secured 2.16 billion yen to buy Norway"s Joint Strike Missile with a range of about 500 kilometers. It also decided to spend 30 million yen for research on introducing Lockheed Martin Corp"s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, each of which has a range of 900 km, Kyodo News said.
The missiles potentially have the range to reach the DPRK"s missile launchers or other targets when fired from fighter jets flying near Japan, a controversial capability for the country, whose war-renouncing Constitution places restrictions on its defense forces, Kyodo said.
About 730 million yen was set aside to prepare for the introduction of the US land-based Aegis missile defense system, which will add to the existing missile shield involving Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors deployed on the ground, it said.
The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported that Japan"s Defense Ministry has selected a few candidate sites for the deployment of Aegis Ashore systems.
Asahi Shimbun said acquiring the long-range missiles was the first major step toward building up the country"s offensive capability to attack enemy missile bases, exceeding the bounds of Japan"s defense-only policy.
The United States has escalated its arms exports to its allies, Asahi Shimbun said, and there is no guarantee that once Japan oversteps the bounds of its defense-only policy, Washington will not relent in its push for Japan to buy more costly weapons.
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