Japan Cabinet OKs $147 billion extra budget

Japan Cabinet OKs $147 billion extra budget plan that includes border defense upgrade

Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's Cabinet on Tuesday approved a 13.1 trillion yen ($147 billion) supplementary budget plan through March that includes military spending for border defense.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the plan, endorsed as part of the government's economic stimulus package, includes 210 billion yen ($2.4 billion) for a military equipment upgrade to strengthen border defense.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday announced a 20 trillion yen ($225 billion) package of public works and other projects aimed at supporting Japan's struggling economy and manufacturers. Critics say the stimulus would aggravate Japan's massive public debt while fueling wasteful spending on unneeded construction projects.

"Our top priority is to get ourselves out of deflation and a high yen," Suga told a news conference after the special Cabinet meeting that approved the budget bill.

The budget bill still requires parliamentary approval to fund part of the package. The government later this month will also compile a budget bill for fiscal 2013, which begins in April.

Japan fell back into recession last fall due to weakening investment and demand in Europe and China. Sales of Japanese products in China have been hammered by violent anti-Japan riots across China over a territorial dispute.

The Defense Ministry's request for the supplementary budget includes 60 billion yen to upgrade and purchase a missile defense system to "cope with a changing security environment," the ministry said in a statement, citing North Korea's missile development and growing activity in the seas and airspace around Japan's territory "by neighboring countries." The ministry is seeking about 43 billion yen to upgrade or modernize transport and monitoring aircraft for use in disaster relief efforts.

Tensions have mounted since September when Japan's central government purchased a group of East China Sea islands controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. Beijing responded furiously to the purchase.

The tiny, uninhabited islands surrounded by rich fishing grounds and suspected undersea mineral resources are known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. China has since dispatched maritime survey boats and warships to the waters almost daily, sometimes entering Japanese waters. Chinese warplanes have recently started flying near Japanese airspace.

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