Japan approved its largest-ever defence budget for the next fiscal year on Wednesday, as hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks to strengthen surveillance of territorial waters in the face of a continuing spat with China.
For the year to March 2016, Tokyo will spend 4.98 trillion yen ($41.97 billion), the government said, rising for the third straight year.
“This is the largest budget ever,” said a defence ministry official, adding the highest allocation previously was 4.96 trillion yen earmarked in 2002.
The trend reflects Abe`s wish to build a more active military, with an eye on a possible escalation of tensions with China, with which Tokyo is at odds over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea.
Japan is increasingly wary of Beijing, which is seen by several countries in the region as growing aggressive in various sovereignty claims.