Japan is set to boost the number of military personnel, Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Sunday, as the new government led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) tackles a territorial spat with China over East China Sea islets.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led the LDP to a landslide election victory last month, promising to beef up the military and stand tough in the dispute.
The number of personnel, now standing at about 225,000, will increase by 287 in the next fiscal year starting in April, Onodera told reporters after meeting Finance Minister Taro Aso for the final budgetary negotiations.
Onodera said the increase was the biggest in two decades. The figure represents an expansion of about 0.1 percent.
"This would allow us to firmly reinforce our surveillance activities in the southwest," Onodera said.
Onodera also said that the defense budget will grow 40 billion yen ($440 million), or about 0.8 percent, in the year from April, posting positive growth for the first time in 11 years.
A small budget rise had been expected as the LDP campaigned in December's lower house election on pledges to boost defense spending. The Defence Ministry this month requested an annual increase of about 100 billion yen in its budget.
Japan to deploy early warning aircraft for Diaoyu surveillance
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have mobilized an early warning plane for around-the-clock monitoring of Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, the The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Sunday.
According to the Japan newspaper, existing radar systems have failed to detect Chinese surveillance planes flying over the islands.
And to “prevent intrusions by Chinese airplanes”, Japan has resorted to use early warning to boost its maritime defense.
Japan's air SDF officials was quoted as saying in the report China's airborne early warning planes and other kinds of military aircraft were often spotted above disputed waters.