The government approved Monday a record defense budget for fiscal 2021 totaling ¥5.34 trillion ($51.7 billion), as it seeks to introduce new standoff missiles capable of attacking enemy vessels from outside their firing range amid growing threats from China.

The draft budget is up 0.5% from fiscal 2020, including outlays linked to hosting the United States' military bases, and has hit a record high for the seventh consecutive year as the country boosts its ability to deal with China's growing maritime assertiveness and North Korea's missile and nuclear threats.

Under the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for the first time, the defense budget has grown for the ninth straight year. Suga has pledged to advance the course set by his long-serving predecessor Shinzo Abe.