, TOKYO, August 30- Japan’s defence ministry is looking for its biggest budget hike in two decades, partly to create a Marines like force, the ministry revealed Friday, as neighbours fret about Tokyo’s rising assertiveness.
Military bosses want more than 4.8 trillion yen ($49 billion) three percent up on last year with much of their focus on safeguarding remote islands, as a sovereignty row with China refuses to fade.
The request mirrors Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy of a more assertive diplomacy and a more active military.
Tokyo and Beijing have repeatedly butted heads over the ownership of Tokyo-controlled islands called the Senkakus, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus, with official Chinese ships and aircraft regularly testing Japanese forces.
Abe has long voiced worries over defence at a time China is increasing its naval activities in waters around Japan and as unpredictable North Korea continues its missile and nuclear programmes.
He has also called for a stronger military alliance with the United States, which is in the process of a re-balancing of its forces under President Barack Obama’s so-called “pivot” to Asia.
The budget request for fiscal 2014, which will begin April, represents a three percent spending increase, making a second straight annual increase after a 0.8 percent rise in the current fiscal year to March 2014.
If approved, the increase would mark the largest rise since fiscal 1992.