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Japan sets sights on first aircraft carrier since WW II

20 December, 2018, 14:12 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Japan beefs up defences amid concerns over China's military might

"We will hold persistent talks with Russian Federation on the basis of this fundamental position", Suga said.

Defense analysts, however, have pointed out that under the current interpretation of the Constitution, Article 9 of which reads "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained", the upgrading of Izumo into a contemporary "de facto" aircraft carrier, whether it permanently carries next-generation fighter jets or not, is in contradiction of Japan's pacifist charter.

These measures contributed to a record five-year defence budget at 27.47 trillion yen (S$335.3 billion), about 3 trillion yen more than in 2013.

Japan plans to buy 45 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, worth about $4 billion, in addition to the 42 jets already on order, according to a separate five-year procurement plan approved on Tuesday.

Given the choice between pacifying U.S. President Donald Trump's administration and bolstering its domestic defense industry, Japan is promising to do both.

The Japanese government is reportedly planning to buy 105 F-35 jets from the United States to replace an ageing fleet of F-15s.

It also plans over the same period to buy 105 F-35As, a variant of the advanced jet which performs conventional takeoffs and landings and can not be used on the retrofitted destroyers.

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Monday that the Soviet draft agreement had predated the strong USA military presence in Japan.

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China, which bolstered its territorial claims in the South Chinese Sea with its first domestically built aircraft carrier a year ago, voiced "strong dissatisfaction and opposition" to the rearmament and called on Japan to "adhere to a purely defensive policy".

Japan said in July that it asked Russian Federation to reduce its military activity on the islands but Moscow seemed to dismiss the idea, accusing Japan of negotiation through the media and public statements.

The new ships and fighter jets are set to "increase operational flexibility" for the military in terms of protecting remote Japanese islands in southern waters, a defense official told AFP. Japan, under the new defence guidelines, also plans to possess cruise missiles created to hit enemy targets, which opponents say could violate Japan's pacifist principle. As Japan comes under pressure from President Donald Trump to allow more exports from the U.S., purchases of costly American weapons would be a way to reduce the USA trade deficit, while enhancing military cooperation between the allies.

Local media have said the purchases could total more than one trillion yen (US$8.8 billion).

Visitors look at a USA stealth aircraft F-35B and F-35 Lightning II during an air show at the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces Misawa airbase in Aomori prefecture, Japan, on September 10, 2017.

Hua said Japan's approach will not help improve or develop the bilateral relationship.

The calls for a clarification could reflect concerns among lawmakers that Moscow might hand over the islands, and the desire of Communists or other politicians outside of the ruling United Russia party to score points with constituents could also be a factor.

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