Japanese parliament passes record U.S. $926 bil. budget bill

일본, 사상 최대 52조6천억 원 방위 예산 국회 통과
Now for a look at stories making headlines around the world and we start in Japan.
Lawmakers there have passed a record budget bill with high social and military spending.
The passage comes amid skepticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ability to push fiscal reform as he faces a crisis over suspected cronyism.
For more on this and other international news we turn to our Ro Aram….
Aram… give us a rundown on the budget…. and what can we expect going forward?

Well Semin… the budget bill totaling a record 926 billion U.S. dollars was passed by the upper house of Japan's parliament on Wednesday.
The budget is for new fiscal year which starts on Sunday and is focused heavily on social security and military spending.
Outlays for social security will rise to an all-time high of 311 billion dollars, accounting for a third of the budget plan.
The large welfare spending is to respond to Japan's aging population, which has made it difficult for the debt-ridden nation to rein in social security expenditures, such as pensions and medical costs.
Military spending has also been earmarked at a record high of 49 billion dollars, rising every year since Abe took office in 2012.
Abe has cited threats from North Korea as a need to strengthen his country's military and has repeatedly called for an amendment to Japan's pacifist Constitution.
Some of the military budget will be used to acquire U.S.-developed missile defense systems.
With the passage of the budget bills, attention is shifting to debate on a mid-year fiscal reform plan, which will come around June.
That will likely be aimed at trying to rein in Japan's debt that currently stands as the highest in the industrialized world, amounting to more than twice the size of the country's economy.
Failure to curb spending has cast doubt on Abe's will to back fiscal reform.
He has already pushed back a fiscal 2020 budget-balancing goal, opting to raise spending on child welfare and education instead.

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