Tokyo, The Japanese government said in two new defence papers — both of them approved on Tuesday — that in recognition of the rising powers of China and Russia, it had decided to bolster its military power through the purchase of American weaponary.
Japan has approved defence plans to buy more American stealth fighters and other equipment in order to boost its capabilities against regional powers Russia and China, reports Press TV and The Japan Times.
US ally Japan is already under America’s so-called security umbrella, but the defence papers indicated that Tokyo would want to improve its own capabilities.
“The United States remains the world’s most powerful nation, but national rivalries are surfacing and we recognize the importance of the strategic competition with both China and Russia as they challenge the regional order,” said a 10-year defecse program outline approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government.
The new National Defence Program Guidelines and the fiscal 2019-2023 midterm defense buildup program approved by the Cabinet – aims to build “multidimensional” defense capabilities for operations across various domains.
The program also expresses “strong concern” over China’s military activities and plans to spend an amount over 27 trillion Japenese Yen in next five years.
Japan will buy 45 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, worth around four billion dollars, in addition to the 42 jets already on order.
The new planes will include 18 short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants of the F-35 that planners want to deploy on Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea.
The navy’s two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga, will be modified for F-35B and install two U.S.-developed land-based Aegis missile systems to counter the North Korean nuclear and missile threat.
Japan will also buy other US-made equipment, including two land-based Aegis Ashore air defense radars, four Boeing Co KC-46 Pegasus refueling planes, and nine Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye early-warning planes.
Japan’s government is also buying longer-range Raytheon SM-3 interceptor missiles to strike enemy warheads in space. Tokyo also plans to boost its cyber security as well as space defence.
The defense budget has been on the rise under the administration of Abe, who took office in 2012. For the next fiscal year starting in April, the Defense Ministry has requested another record-high budget of about ¥5.3 trillion, including around ¥235 billion in costs related to the acquisition of the Aegis Ashore system.
Japan has already announced that it will spend a record 242 billion dollars on military equipment over the next five years, 6.4 percent higher than the previous five-year plan.
The new purchases may help Japan avoid a trade war with the US. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on auto imports from Japan to cut Washington’s trade deficit with Tokyo.