TOKYO - Japan's defense ministry is seeking an annual budget increase that will add to past hikes to expand military spending over a decade by almost a sixth.
The ministry's budget proposal, released on Tuesday, seeks an increase of 2.6 percent in spending, to a record 5.48 trillion yen (US$49.93 billion), for the year starting April 1.
Finance ministry officials will review, and could amend, the request before sending it to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's cabinet for approval.
With the defense spending increases, Japan's strategy is to build a force armed with the latest equipment.
Big-ticket spending requests include 130 billion yen for 12 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, four of which will be short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants operating off converted helicopter carriers.
The defense ministry is asking for 105 billion yen next year to develop its first new domestic jet fighter in three decades. The project, expected to be completed in the 2030s, at a cost of about US$40 billion, is being led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Japan's forces, which defend its islands alongside US units, also want money for new compact warships and funds to buy and develop longer-range missiles to strike distant enemy targets, including land bases.
The ministry is also seeking funds for space-related forces, such as satellites and lasers to track targets beyond the atmosphere. It also wants 34.5 billion yen to strengthen defenses against cyber attacks.