Japan on Monday approved the country’s all-time high budget, including that of defense which rose to over $51 billion.

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga approved the budget of $1.03 trillion for the next fiscal year starting in April 2021, Kyodo News reported.

It is the country’s highest budget so far, and has been over 100 trillion yen ($966 billion) for the past three years.

The fresh expenditure bill for the country comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has battered economy as Japan grapples with low exports amid fall in overseas demand.

However, Japan has moved ahead with its plans to introduce new “standoff missiles capable of attacking enemy vessels”. It will take Japan five years to build the missiles.

The Defense Ministry’s draft budget totals 5.34 trillion yen ($51.7 billion) which is up 0.5% from the current financial year – and is record high for consecutive seventh year.

The defense expenditure bill also includes outlays linked to hosting the US’ military bases while Japan will also build two new Aegis naval vessels.

Kyodo News said the rise in defense spending is linked to “China’s growing maritime assertiveness and North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.”

However, opposition lawmakers have raised concerns over production of missiles, saying “such missiles that could have the capability to strike enemy bases would run counter to the country’s war-renouncing Constitution and exclusively defense-oriented policy.”

Under the new budget, Japan will also test next-generation 5G technology.

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