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SHINZO ABE, Japan’s prime minister, returned to power in 2012 promising to reverse a long-term fall in military spending. He has kept that pledge. On August 29th the country’s defence ministry put in a record budget request of 5.5 trillion yen ($53 billion), for next year, up 3.5% from FY2014. If accepted by the Diet, it will be the third consecutive rise in spending, making up for a decade of decline.

The military’s shopping list includes three drones, 20 surveillance aircraft, six F-35 stealth fighters, a submarine and money for land to build a new military base on a remote island. These purchases should trigger no alarms, insists Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s defence minister (pictured). They are, he says, merely about “maintenance” of Japan’s defence. China is, of course, likely to see the splurge differently...

Japan's military spending: Tooling up | The Economist

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