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Japan election

Japan PM hopefuls Kono, Kishida join call to hike defense budget

Takaichi's proposal for 2% of GDP sparks debate among rivals

Takaichi, right, called for doubling Japan's defense spending to 2% of GDP, prompting Kono, middle, and Kishida, left, to respond. 

TOKYO -- Two leading candidates in the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race have joined the call to increase Japan's defense spending, setting the stage for a heated debate on how to address the growing threats from China and North Korea.

Vaccine czar Taro Kono, who is considered the front-runner, said Monday that an increase in defense spending would be inevitable.

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