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Japan to boost military spending as China row simmers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Japan said Tuesday it intends to boost military spending by five percent over the next five years, with a hardware splurge intended to beef up defence of far-flung territories amid a corrosive row with China.

The cabinet of hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed 24.7 trillion yen ($240 billion) would be spent between 2014 and 2019, including on drones, submarines, fighter jets and amphibious vehicles, in a strategic shift towards the south and west.

The shopping list is part of efforts by Abe to normalise the military in Japan, which has been officially pacifist since defeat in World War II. Its well-equipped and highly professional services are limited to a narrowly defined self-defensive role.

It comes with the establishment of a United States-style National Security Council that is expected to concentrate greater power in the hands of a smaller number of senior politicians and bureaucrats.

Fears are growing in Japan over the rising power of China, with the two countries embroiled in a dispute over the sovereignty of a group of islands.

New defence guidelines approved by the cabinet on Tuesday said Tokyo will introduce a "dynamic joint defence force," intended to help air, land and sea forces work together more effectively in the face of danger.

"China ... is taking dangerous action that can draw unexpected contingencies," said the guidelines.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131216/japan-boost-military-spending-china-row-simmers