Japan's government approved a ninth consecutive rise in military spending.
The Ministry of Defence will get a record 5.34 trillion yen ($51.7bn) for the year starting in April, up 1.1 percent from this year.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is continuing the military expansion pursued by his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, to give Japan’s forces new planes, missiles and aircraft carriers with greater range and potency against potential foes, including neighbouring China. Japan is buying longer-range missiles and considering arming and training its military to strike distant land targets in China, North Korea and other parts of Asia.
A planned jet fighter, the first in three decades, is expected to cost around $40bn and be ready in the 2030s. That project, which will be led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with help from the US company Lockheed Martin, gets $706m in the new budget. Japan will spend $323m to begin the development of a long-range anti-ship missile to defend the Okinawan island chain in its southwest. Other big purchases include $628m for six Lockheed F-35 stealth fighters, including two short-takeoff and vertical-landing (STOVL) B variants that will operate off a converted helicopter carrier.