Japan boosts military forces to counter China

Japan boosts military forces to counter China,” BBC News, 17 December 2013

Japan’s cabinet has approved a new national security strategy and increased defence spending in a move widely seen as aimed at 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. …

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was elected a year ago, has called for Japan to broaden the scope of activities performed by its military – something currently tightly controlled by the post-war constitution.

He has also established a National Security Council that can oversee key issues.

Approving the national security strategy made Japan’s foreign and security policy “clear and transparent – for both the Japanese people and all the world to see”, he said.

Spending over the five years is expected to amount to 23.97 trillion yen ($232bn, £142bn), a rise of 2.6% once billions of yen in cost savings are taken into account.

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. …

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC News, Tokyo

For a country that, according to its constitution, does not maintain any army, navy or air force, Japan spends an awful lot of money on defence.

Of course, Japan does have a military, a large and modern one. But it was designed in the days of the Cold War to protect Japan against an invasion from the north, from Russia.

But over the last 10 years, China has transformed its military at an astonishing rate. Then last year, a long simmering dispute over a tiny group of islands in the east China suddenly burst on to the front pages.

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