Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Japan's defense ministry is requesting a budget of $50.3 billion for the next fiscal year, starting April 2020, according to Kyodo news agency and local press reports.
The amount, which is to be reviewed by Japan's finance ministry and Tokyo's parliament, will be a record high for the world's third-largest economy as it has increased military spending since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assumed office in 2012.
Abe has approved of increased military spending since reinterpreting Japan's pacifist constitution in 2015 -- Japan can now use its self-defense force to defend itself and allies as a "normal" military state.
The requested $50.3 billion budget is a 1.2 percent increase from fiscal year 2019.
The Korea Times reported Friday Japan's defense spending dwarfs Seoul's military budget for 2020, which is estimated to reach about $41.5 billion.
In its statement on Friday, Japan's defense ministry said the goal is to build an "integrated defense force" in line with the midterm defense force maintenance plan of 2019-23, finalized in December 2018.
Japanese military spending is also increasing due to planned purchases of U.S. weapons, including the acquisition of six F-35B stealth fighter jets, for a total of $792 million. Three additional F-35A fighters are to be acquired for about $292 million.
Japan has cited increasing threats from North Korea and China as reasons for increasing the military budget.