Japan's Defence Ministry said yesterday it was seeking a 3 per cent increase in next year's budget allocation, the biggest rise in 22 years.
Altough much of the growth is linked to revised personnel costs and equipment imports made more expensive by a weaker yen, the request comes as Japan is locked in a territorial spat with China over East China Sea islets, fraying ties between Asia's two biggest economies and raising security concerns.
Saddled with high public debt, Japan had been cutting its defence spending. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who returned to power last December pledging to stand tough in the islands row, increased this year's defence budget for the first time in 11 years.
The ministry said it planned to request 4.82 trillion yen (HK$381 billion) in budget appropriations for the year from April 2014, a 3 per cent rise.
The ministry's spending plans include research on unmanned high-altitude surveillance planes and tilt-rotor aircraft, with actual purchases tentatively planned for the following year.
Japan hopes that tilt-rotor aircraft such as the Osprey and drones including Northrop Grumman Corp's Global Hawk will help it better defend remote islands.