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Politics

Japan readies biggest-ever coast guard budget

More funding sought for new ships to patrol disputed isles

Japan intends to increase the number of coast guard vessels protecting the disputed Senkaku Islands.

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government looks to spend some 210 billion yen ($1.82 billion) on the Japan Coast Guard next fiscal year -- the most ever -- with additional reinforcements planned for disputed East China Sea islands.

The proposal would raise the coast guard's budget by roughly 20 billion yen for fiscal 2017 compared with a year earlier.

This money includes an additional call for around 10 billion yen, made after the Coast Guard's initial budget request, mostly for new large patrol ships to tighten security around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu.

The Japan Coast Guard typically seeks about 30 billion yen for ship orders. Next fiscal year's budget proposal roughly doubles that figure.

During the summer, Chinese government ships repeatedly sailed through the contiguous zone extending out from territorial waters claimed by Japan around the islands. Beijing plans to increase its number of these types of vessels, which include coast guard and fisheries patrol ships.

Japanese government officials worry that letting these ships stage a landing on the islands will lead to China taking effective control over the Senkakus.

Additional spending, including that provided by a supplementary budget this fiscal year, will add to the 10 large patrol ships that the Japan Coast Guard now dedicates to securing the islands. The guard also will get additional smaller ships used to study North Korean missile launches.

Separately, Japan appears on track to raise defense spending to a record 5.1 trillion yen next fiscal year, including provisions for missile defense. Adding in the coast guard outlays creates the biggest growth in government spending aside from social security.

(Nikkei)

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