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Japan considers raising defence budget to record US$49b: Nikkei

[TOKYO] Japan is looking to raise defence spending to a record 5.3 trillion yen (S$66.4 billion) for the year starting April 1, partly to develop a next-generation fighter jet, the Nikkei reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

The amount compares with 5.26 trillion yen earmarked for defence for this fiscal year and includes more than 10 billion yen for developing a military jet to replace Japan's F-2 fighter in the future, the report said.

The plan will be part of the government's overall annual budget to be finalised by the end of the month.

An increase in defence expenditure would mark the eighth consecutive year of expansion.

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Japan's medium-term defence programme announced a year ago outlined spending of 27.5 trillion yen for the 2019-2023 period, up nearly 3 trillion yen from the previous five years.

The country has been under pressure to step up military imports from the US amid President Donald Trump's criticism over trade imbalances.