China on Tuesday said Japan's hike in defense spending is a cause of concern, casting doubt on Tokyo's peaceful intentions.
“Japan’s rising defense budget caused concern, arousing neighboring Asian countries and the international society’s suspicions that Japan is deviating from its path of self-defense-only principle and peaceful development path,” Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China’s Foreign Ministry, told a news conference in Beijing.
Beijing’s concern comes after Japan last Friday decided to raise spending on the country’s defense, bringing the annual budget to a historic high.
A draft budget for 2023 approved by the government led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida saw Japan’s total spending hit a record 114.38 trillion yen ($865 billion).
The rise comes amid Japan’s focus on bolstering its defense capabilities, with social security costs continuing to rise.
Tokyo, which is part of the US-led Quad that includes Australia and India, will be spending 6.8 trillion yen ($51.7 billion) on defense, an annual increase of 26.3%.
The Quad is a loose security alliance aimed at containing China’s expanding economic and security influence in the wider Asia-Pacific region.
It will include costs related to the realignment of the American forces stationed in Japan.
There are some 50,000 American soldiers deployed in Japan under a bilateral security pact with the US.
Meanwhile, Tokyo said on Tuesday it will require travelers from China to present negative COVID-19 tests taken within seven days upon their arrival in Japan.
Kishida told reporters: “Those who test positive for the virus will be quarantined for seven days in principle.”