Japan to hike military spending

Image copyright Japanese Defense Ministry Image caption The increase comes ahead of expected naval war games with South Korea

Japan has voted to bolster its military by $6.75bn (£5.3bn) to meet the threat of “imminent” threats from China and North Korea.

The vote by the National Diet on Thursday comes ahead of planned joint naval and air exercises this year with US forces in the region.

The increase means Japan will increase its military spending by 1.55%, or ¥360bn (£2.8bn).

Tokyo has increased its defence budget every year since 2001.

The increase is its first for five years and is a response to a recent uptick in China’s military spending, which many analysts see as a direct threat to Japan’s security.

The increase also comes ahead of the imminent military exercise involving Japan and the US.

Japan is a pacifist country, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants the military to play a bigger role.

“The military requires additional resources. We have been adjusting the budget each year to meet security threats,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

The BBC’s in Tokyo, Tom Rogan, says that Japan’s military is a comparatively small player in Asia, but it has been bolstering its efforts in recent years.

He says that though China has dramatically increased its military spending in recent years, North Korea’s actions in the area, particularly missile tests, have posed a serious security threat.

“On the day of the vote, North Korea also tested its new intercontinental ballistic missile again. Obviously these two things are being taken extremely seriously,” he says.

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