Japan approves largest military budget since WWII to counter Chinese threat

Japanese soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Regiment of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force train in urban assault with American Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade Oct. 17, 2008 during a bilateral exercise at Fort Lewis' Leschi Town. Photo credit: U.S. Army

On Wednesday, Japan approved its largest military budget in the last 70 years at a record $42 billion. The extra spending comes during a struggling economy.

Fortune reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government approved the largest military budget since WWII in an effort to counter rising tensions between Japan and China over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

Some feel the development will turn into a windfall of business for U.S. defense contractors. As orders for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan diminish, this may be newfound money to ease their concerns.

According to RT.com, the 2% hike in military spending is the third increase since Abe took over in 2012. His election ended an 11-year decline in defense spending.

“The situation around Japan is changing,” Defense Minister Gen. Nakatani said. “The level of defense spending reflects the amount necessary to protect Japan’s air, sea and land, guard the lives and properties of our citizens.”

The draft budget includes monies allocated for naval vessels, planes and fighting vehicles designed to guard the waters bordering China. Japan will most likely spend funding on Boeing aircraft, Northrop Grumman stealth fighters and Kawasaki Heavy Industries submarine hunting planes and submarines.

In addition, the budget includes funds to move U.S. troops away from Okinawa Island. Residents of the area have heavily protested the American presence.

According to the Pentagon, Beijing stated last year that it was raising its defense spending by 12%, with a large portion of the budget going towards high-tech weaponry and cyber-warfare abilities.

At a press conference Wednesday, Prime Minister Abe said, “This budget will contribute to achieve both economic recovery and regaining fiscal health together.” The government is working diligently to keep Japan from falling into a recession. This is the prime minister’s first budget since his reelection back in December.

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