A draft of a long-term economic outline does not give details about spending, but mentions "attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in East Asia, making regional security increasingly severe".

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, meeting US President Joe Biden on Monday, pledged to
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, meeting US President Joe Biden on Monday, pledged to "substantially increase" Japan's defence budget. (AFP)

Japan aims to "drastically strengthen" its military capabilities, as officials worry that Russia's assault on Ukraine could prompt instability in East Asia.

"We will drastically strengthen defence capabilities that will be the ultimate collateral to secure national security," said an economic policy draft seen by Reuters news agency on Friday.

The draft, a long-term economic outline that is updated annually, does not gives details about spending.

But says for the first time: "There have been attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in East Asia, making regional security increasingly severe."

It also does not specify security threats in the region, but Japan's military planners have expressed repeated concern about China, with which Japan has a long-running territorial dispute, and North Korea.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's news conference with US President Joe Biden on Monday was dominated by the president saying the United States would be willing to use force to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression.

READ MORE: Japan, US carry out joint air manoeuvres in response to Russia-China flight

Defence spending

Former prime minister Shinzo Abe called for defence spending of nearly $60 billion for next fiscal year, up from around $46 billion under this year's initial budget.

The increase was in light of China's growing military spending and missile threats from North Korea, Nippon Television Network reported.

"It's natural (for the government) to secure defence spending equivalent of 2 percent of GDP," Abe, who still wields considerable clout as head of the biggest faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was quoted as saying.

Kishida has not said how much he wants to boost military spending for the fiscal year starting in April 2023. Higher defence spending will strain Japan's already dire public finances.

The lower house of parliament on Friday approved an extra budget worth $23 billion, funded by bond sales, to cushion the blow to households and firms from rising fuel and raw material costs. 

The upper house is expected to enact the budget into law next week.

With Kishida facing a national election in July, another supplementary budget "is almost a done deal", Hoshino said. 

"The question is how to secure funding, other than having to rely on ultra-low borrowing costs provided by the Bank of Japan."

READ MORE: Quad opposes change of 'status quo by force' amid China worries

Source: Reuters