Japan's Defense Ministry said on Friday it was seeking a three percent increase in next year's budget allocation, the biggest rise in 22 years, with most of the growth linked to revised personnel costs and equipment imports made more expensive by a weaker yen.
The budget request for the year from April 2014 comes as Japan remains locked in a territorial spat with China over uninhabited East China Sea islets, fraying ties between Asia's two biggest economies and raising security concerns.
Saddled with hefty public debt, Japan had been cutting its defense spending in recent years. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who returned to power last December for a rare second term pledging to stand tough in the islands row, increased this year's defense budget for the first time in 11 years.
The ministry said it planned to request 4.82 trillion yen ($48.97 billion) in budget appropriations, up 3.0 percent from the current year.
Social media users around the world have deluged a special Facebook page calling for the safety of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, who is being held captive by the Islamic State extremist group, with selfies proclaiming "I AM KENJI." (Asahi)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday the arrest of a former organized crime member for the sale of stimulant drugs to musician Aska two years ago, reports Nippon News Network (Jan. 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
Crown Prince Naruhito met Saudi Arabia's new King Salman in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Sunday and expressed his condolences over the death of King Abdullah, who passed away on Friday. (The Japan News)
A fire drill was conducted at Horyuji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, on Monday, which was Cultural Property Fire Prevention Day. About 100 personnel participated, including temple priests and local firemen. (The Japan News)
The Islamic State beheaded one of the two Japanese citizens it has been holding, but signaled a potential willingness to negotiate over the fate of the other one - offering a tiny sliver of hope to a Japan reeling from shock and grief. (foreignpolicy.com)
A former senior Aum Supreme Truth cult member on death row testified about how the cult's leader ordered his followers to commit a series of deadly crimes, at the trial of a fellow former member at the Tokyo District Court on Friday. (The Japan News)