TOKYO, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Increasingly alarmed by heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula and the presence of Chinese vessels near the disputed Senkaku Islands, Japan is planning a record defense budget for 2017.
The $50 billion budget is Tokyo’s largest planned allocation for the military and includes plans to build new submarines to deter Chinese and North Korean advances, according to Kyodo News and Sankei Shimbun.
In March, Tokyo began deploying the “Jinryu,” a Soryu-class submarine, a month before Japan’s fighter jets began to warn Chinese planes repeatedly entering Japanese airspace between April and June.
If the budget is finalized it would reflect a 2.3 percent increase from 2016.
Japan’s defense budget has increased annually since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assumed office in December 2012. The new planned budget includes references to Chinese incursions near Japan-claimed territories and North Korea’s missile provocations, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
About $735.3 million of the budget is to go toward building powerful new submarines with improved sonar systems that could monitor the Sea of Japan.
North Korea’s recent missiles landed in Japanese territorial waters, and the provocations have accelerated Tokyo’s call to shoot down any projectiles that enter Japanese airspace.
The new budget reflects plans to deploy the “SM3 Block 2A”, a maritime interceptor missile that cost $142.2 million.
Japan’s defense ministry is also expected to upgrade the PAC3, the surface-to-air guided Patriot missiles, according to Kyodo.
The budget includes allocations for the relocation of the U.S. air base in Futenma, which, according to the report, would cost $1.74 billion.