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.
A total of 39 people were confirmed dead and seven remain missing on Wednesday after a series of landslides and flooding triggered by torrential rain overnight engulfed residential areas in Hiroshima, western Japan. (Kyodo)
The Hiroshima city government's response to the deadly rain-triggered landslides that left scores dead or missing will likely be questioned because it issued evacuation notices to residents after the disaster had already occurred. (The Japan News)
The sports ministry has deemed a proposal to renovate the National Stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics unrealistic, because of a number of drawbacks including insufficient earthquake resistance and building regulations that prohibit the blocking of sunlight from nearby structures. (The Japan News)
East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, announced new plans on Tuesday for three train lines linking Tokyo International Airport at Haneda and key stations in the Japanese capital by building a new underground station and tunnel. (Jiji Press)
A U.S.-based social media challenge daring people to douse themselves with buckets of ice water has spread to Japan, with celebrities from billionaire Masayoshi Son to singer Ayumi Hamasaki taking up the gauntlet to boost awareness of what is known as Lou Gehrig's disease. (Japan Times)
The chief suspect in the murder of a wealthy Swiss-based Japanese asset manager and his wife whose bodies were found buried in a vacant lot in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, in February 2013, pleaded not guilty as his trial opened in Tokyo on Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Local summer festivals in Tokyo were once lined with many street stalls run by organizations with links to organized crime. But festivals have undergone a makeover after a metropolitan government ordinance enacted in October 2011 banned event organizers from allowing gangs from becoming involved. (The Japan News)
A Sapporo assemblyman has drawn fire for posting comments online stating the indigenous Ainu group "no longer exists," and suggesting those who identify as Ainu are motivated by government programs that benefit the ethnic minority. (Japan Times)