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Defense spending in fiscal 1998 will be reduced by 0.3 percent, or roughly 12.4 billion yen, from the 4.9 trillion yen allocated in this fiscal year’s initial budget, the Finance Ministry and Defense Agency agreed Thursday.

It will be the first time since the present Defense Agency was established in 1954 that defense-related expenditures will be cut from the previous year’s budget levels, finance ministry officials said.

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