Japan’s Defense Ministry is looking to follow through on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s pledge to “substantially increase” defense spending over five years, but experts say an initial budget request released Wednesday signals continued incremental hikes rather than dramatic increases.

The ministry said it is seeking ¥5.59 trillion ($40 billion) in spending for the next fiscal year — a total that would exceed its record-high ¥5.4 trillion budget, drawn up in fiscal 2022. The figure could also rise further, since funds for a number of projects — perhaps as many as 100, according to media reports — have not yet been specified.

But experts such as James Schoff, a former senior adviser for East Asia policy at the Pentagon, say that despite being a new high, the budget request "reflects more continuity rather than a break from the past.”