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Japan gives itself another record defence budget amid regional tensions with China

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The country has been debating a bigger military to ward off China (Photo: ANI)

The Japanese cabinet has approved a defence budget of 5.40 trillion yen ($47 billion) for 2022, setting a record for the eighth consecutive year.

This marks an increase by over one per cent of the GDP, which was the limit for Japan's defence spending for decades. The budget focuses on developing new warfare technologies to counter an increasingly belligerent China and North Korea which has lately launched a slew of missiles.

Japanese news service Kyodo says that the budget makes provisions for hosting American military bases.

At $47 billion, the Japanese defence budget is still humble as compared to China's $252 billion.

Addressing media persons, Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said: "As the security environment surrounding Japan has been changing at an unprecedented speed and becoming increasingly severe, it is an urgent task for Japan to strengthen its necessary defense capabilities".

China has upped regional tensions by laying claims to the Senkaku islands, currently under Japan. It has also been sending its navy frequently to islands near Japan.

Beijing has been violating the air and maritime spaces of Taiwan with increasing regularity, even threatening to take over the island nation by force.

With regional tensions on the rise, Japan spent much time this year, its election year, debating threats to its sovereignty from China. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been relooking at Japan's status after Australia, UK and USA inked the AUKUS deal to arm Australia with nuclear submarines.

Where is Japan spending its defence money:

# Pilotless planes and next generation fighter jets

# Missiles to be launched from ships, aircraft and land to deter Chinese ships

# Procure American F-35 advanced stealth fighter jets

# Ships to support Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, close to Taiwan.

# Space research and cybersecurity

# Technologies to defend against drones and hypersonic missiles

The Japanese unease is a reflection of the arms race that has taken off in the region where, besides China and North Korea, other countries like South Korea and Taiwan too are arming themselves to the teeth.

The region has drawn the attention of the US and its European allies, all of who have sent their warships in the waters around Taiwan and Japan to balance out China.