Amid Dispute with China, Japan Boosts Military Spending
Japan has adopted new defense plans calling for a five percent increase in military spending and a greater regional role for its self-defense forces.
The national security strategy and defense guidelines approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday are seen as part of a response to China's growing military power.
The plans were drawn up at the request of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to revise Japan's pacifist constitution to help deal with regional issues, including China.
Under the new plans, defense spending would increase by five percent from 2014 to 2019. Surveillance drones, submarines, fighter jets and amphibious vehicles would be among the purchases, which will total $247 billion.
The hardware is part of a shift in military focus from the north to the southwest, where Japan is involved in a tense dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea.
The security strategy specifically mentioned China, noting it has taken "dangerous action that can draw unexpected contingencies" and saying it has laid claims that are inconsistent with international law.
China Blames Terrorists for Deadly Clash in Xinjiang
China is blaming an Islamic "terror gang" for an incident during which police shot and killed 14 people in far western Xinjiang province.
Two policemen were also killed in the Sunday clash, which officials say broke out as police tried to arrest suspects near the town of Kashgar.
The official Xinhua news agency called the incident an "organized, pre-meditated, violent terror attack," noting that six people were arrested.
It said police believe the suspects were part of a 20-member terrorist group that had tested explosives and were planning attacks.
Xinjiang has been the scene of numerous incidents of deadly unrest, which Beijing often blames on foreign-backed Muslim Uighur separatists.
Exiled Uighur groups dispute the claim, saying China is exaggerating the threat in order to justify its repression of Muslim religious life.
It is often difficult for foreign journalists to verify the claims made by either side, as Beijing severely restricts all but state-backed reporting in the region.