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Japanese Leaders Back Major Defense Buildup

In this Dec. 5, 2010 file photo released by U.S. Navy, USNS Tippecanoe, center, refuels Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Escort Flotilla ships Ikazuchi, right, and Kongo during a joint military exercise in the Pacific Ocean. Charles Oki/AP hide caption

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Charles Oki/AP

In this Dec. 5, 2010 file photo released by U.S. Navy, USNS Tippecanoe, center, refuels Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Escort Flotilla ships Ikazuchi, right, and Kongo during a joint military exercise in the Pacific Ocean.

Charles Oki/AP

Japan's cabinet has approved a large defense buildup plan that includes the purchase of new drones, stealth aircraft and amphibious vehicles in what is widely viewed as a response to China's growing military might and a tense standoff over disputed islands claimed by both countries.

Reuters reports:

"The planned 2.6 percent increase over five years, announced on Tuesday, reverses a decade of decline and marks the clearest sign since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office a year ago that he wants a bigger military role for Japan as tension flares with China over islands they both claim."

Voice of America adds:

"The five-year budget earmarks more than $230 billion for fighter jets, combat and amphibious vehicles, as well as surveillance drones and early warning aircraft.

"The national security strategy is Japan's first since it formed a U.S.-style National Security Council to streamline defense policy.

"It centers on Japan's southwest where Beijing is increasingly aggressive in a dispute over ownership of the Japan-administered Senkaku islands, known as Diaoyu in China."

The BBC quotes from a Japanese national security document that it says has informed the increased military spending. It reads:

"China's stance toward other countries and military moves, coupled with a lack of transparency regarding its military and national security policies, represent a concern to Japan and the wider international community and require close watch."

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Meanwhile, Foreign Policy on Monday takes a look at the rapidly expanding Chinese navy, which in addition to a new high-profile aircraft carrier has seen a steady influx of new patrol ships, destroyers and amphibious ships.