Japan Wary Of China's Higher Defense Spending

Japan wary of China's higher defense spending

Japanese defense officials say they intend to closely monitor how China will increase its defense spending this year.

The Chinese government presented this year's draft budget at the annual session of the National People's Congress, which opened on Friday.

The defense budget increased by 6.8 percent from last year to about 209 billion dollars. That's around four times Japan's defense budget for fiscal 2021, starting in April.

The increase comes as Beijing continues to step up maritime activities. Chinese government ships have repeatedly entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Japan controls the islands. China and Taiwan claim them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory, in terms of history and international law. It says there is no issue of sovereignty to be resolved over them.

Japanese Defense Ministry officials say it is not clear what type of equipment Beijing is planning to deploy. They plan to call on the Chinese side to increase transparency through security talks and exchanges.

They say they will also continue to closely analyze and monitor activities of the Chinese military.