Japan has adopted new defense plans calling for a five percent increase in military spending and a greater regional role for its self-defense forces.
The national security strategy and defense guidelines approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday are seen as part of a response to China's growing military power.
The plans were drawn up at the request of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to revise Japan's pacifist constitution. Mr. Abe defended the new defense plans as part of a "proactive peace policy."
"These plans show Japan's diplomatic and security policy to the Japanese people, as well as the international community, with clarity and transparency. Through international cooperation, and our proactive peace policy, we will continue our effort to make even more of a contribution to international peace and stability."
Under the new plans, defense spending would increase by five percent from 2014 to 2019. Surveillance drones, submarines, fighter jets and amphibious vehicles would be among the purchases, which will total $247 billion.
The hardware is part of a shift in military focus from the north to the southwest, where Japan is involved in a tense dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea.
The security strategy specifically mentioned China, noting it has taken "dangerous action that can draw unexpected contingencies."
China denies its military stance is aggressive, saying it is only trying to defend its territory.
Responding to Japan's new defense plans Tuesday, Beijing's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said it is Tokyo whose motivations should be questioned.
"We would like to again urge Japan to earnestly face up to and conscientiously reflect on history, respect other countries' appropriate and reasonable security concerns in the region, follow the trend of history and stick to the path of peaceful development. We also hope that Japan does not pay lip service to the term 'peace,' and instead takes real steps and play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability."
Last month, China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone over a part of the East China Sea that includes a disputed, Tokyo-controlled island group, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu.
Japan, along with the U.S. and South Korea, have refused to acknowledge the zone and ignored Chinese requirements that foreign aircraft identify themselves and submit to Beijing's demands.