Japan ministry seeks 2.6% defense hike amid China worries

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TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Defense Ministry is asking for a 2.6% increase over this year’s record budget. It’s seeking to further strengthen the country’s military in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in the region. In its budget request released Tuesday, the ministry sought 5.48 trillion yen ($49.86 billion) for the year starting April 1, 2022. That could be a record budget if approved by parliament. Costly requests include purchases of more U.S.-made F-35 stealth fighters as well as research and development for unmanned aircraft and a homegrown fighter jet program. The key U.S. ally has ramped up defense spending by 17% over the past nine years.

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