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Japanese Cabinet OKs 1986 Budget : Measure Calls for Boost in Defense Spending, Foreign Aid

December 29, 1985|Associated Press

TOKYO — The Cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone on Saturday approved a $267.8-billion budget for fiscal 1986 that includes increased defense spending and foreign aid.

The budget calls for a 3% increase in total government expenditures over fiscal 1985. Defense spending will grow 6.58% to $16.5 billion.

Overseas assistance also will increase 7% to $3.08 billion, down slightly from the 10% increase in 1985.

The effective increase in the defense and aid budgets, however, is sharply higher due to the recent rise in the value of the yen against the dollar.

Purchases Planned

Purchases of 12 additional F-15 jet fighters, 10 P-3C anti-submarine patrol planes, four Patriot surface-to-air guided missile batteries, and three new destroyers are provided for in the defense budget.

Fiscal 1986, which starts April 1, marks the beginning of a government-approved five-year defense buildup plan with planned expenditures of $91.1 billion. A defense agency official, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said the agency was "basically satisfied" with its 1986 budget allocation.

The budget must go next to the Diet, or parliament. Final approval there is expected since the governing party coalition holds most of the seats.

Japan's constitution prohibits buying military goods that have offensive military capabilities. The U.S. Congress has criticized Japan for not increasing its defense spending more rapidly and has requested it fulfill a promise to defend its territorial sea zone to 1,000 miles.

Praise in Washington

In Washington, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger praised the planned increase in defense spending as an "appropriate measure to achieve Japan's defense goals."

The budget also calls for increases in national railway fares, medical costs for the elderly, cigarette taxes, tuition fees at national universities and the retail price for rice.

The budget calls for a $5.9-million reduction in general government spending--expenditures other than debt servicing and allocations to local governments--to $161.3 billion, the fourth straight year of reduced spending in that area.

After approving the budget, the Cabinet members submitted their resignations to allow Nakasone to make a year-end reshuffle of Cabinet and top party posts.

Several Cabinet Shifts

Newly named Chief Cabinet Secretary Masaharu Gotoda told reporters there were 17 changes, with the trade and industry portfolio going to Michio Watanabe, a popular figure in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He replaced Keijiro Murata.

In another change, Ichiro Ozawa takes over at the Home Affairs Ministry. At 43, Ozawa will be the youngest member of the new Cabinet.

Gotoda said the reshuffle reflects Nakasone's commitment to solve trade problems with the West, reform education and privatize the state railway system.

Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe and Finance Minister Noboru Takeshita will continue in the posts they have held since Nakasone came to power in 1982.

Opposition parties immediately criticized the budget and called for more measures to stimulate the domestic economy, improve living standards and lower defense expenditures.

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