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In deviation from norm, Japan to boost defense spending

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 8:51 p.m.

TOKYO — Moving from decades-long pacifism, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that Japan will significantly increase defense spending for drones, fighter jets and naval destroyers to challenge growing military threats from China.

Abe revealed a sweeping five-year national security strategy that will extend Japan's military reach farther into the East China Sea, which China claims it owns and has recently taken steps to assert control over.

There have been weeks of threats from China's People's Liberation Army, which demanded that the ships and planes of other nations seek permission from China when traversing the sea, which Japan's ally, the United States, considers international waters.

“The security situation around Japan has become even more severe, and in order to maintain peace, it is necessary to implement national security policies in a more strategic and structured manner,” Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“This does not in any way change Japan's pacifist policies, which have been consistent throughout the postwar period,” the ministry said.

A focus of Abe's plan is to shift troops and equipment to the nation's southwest territories that include the Senkaku islands, a chain Beijing says belongs to China.

Japan's constitution bars the nation from possessing “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential.” The wording of the document was demanded by U.S. military as part of Japan's surrender in World War II. Abe's plan would alter the definition of self-defense to include action on behalf of allies under attack.

China accused Japan of acting in “unwise” fashion.

“If Japan really hopes to return itself to the ranks of a ‘normal country,' it should face up to its aggression in history and cooperate with its Asian neighbors,” the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

China was invaded and its women raped by Japanese imperial forces before the official start of World War II.

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