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.
Japan has been stung by its third political scandal in a week after the country's new industry minister - whose predecessor resigned over allegations of misspending - admitted that his staff had spent office money at a sex bar. (The Guardian)
The government said Friday it has chosen Nobel physics prize laureates Shuji Nakamura and Hiroshi Amano and five others as this year's winners of Japan's top cultural award, the Order of Culture. (Kyodo)
In possibly a legal first, a female civil servant on Tuesday sued the government over what she calls institutional sexism at the ministry she works for, citing almost two decades of blocked promotions and pay raises. (Japan Times)