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Japan gov't budget requests for FY 2019 swell to record high

In this March 12, 2018 photo, the Ministry of Finance building is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Budget requests by central government ministries and agencies for fiscal 2019 total a record-high 102.77 trillion yen ($928.5 billion), the Finance Ministry said Friday.

The previous record was 102.41 trillion yen initially requested for fiscal 2016, and the new figure sets the stage for the initial general account budget to top 100 trillion yen for the first time when eventually approved by the Diet.

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration attempts to balance snowballing social security costs and increased defense spending with fiscal consolidation, the ministry is now tasked with reviewing the requests and trimming outlays it deems unnecessary.

Abe has promised a stimulus package to offset the negative impact of a planned increase in the nationwide consumption tax in October 2019, making it unlikely that Japan will shed its status as having the worst fiscal health among advanced economies anytime soon.

Requests for policy spending by the central government as a whole reached 78.18 trillion yen, while debt-servicing costs were expected to total 24.59 trillion yen.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry asked for a record 31.90 trillion yen as the costs of caring for the country's graying population through spending on pensions and medical care were expected to continue soaring.

The Defense Ministry sought 5.30 trillion yen, also an all-time high, in part to purchase the land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense system from the United States as a shield against potential North Korean attacks.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry requested 7.07 trillion yen, with a focus on public works that bolster response to natural disasters such as the massive flooding in western Japan in July and Hokkaido earthquake on Thursday.

The Justice Ministry, which is setting up a new immigration agency to accept more foreign workers into the country, requested 801.9 billion yen.

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