Japan adopts new defense guidelines
Monday, December 17, 21:54
Japan has approved new defense guidelines, including a plan to upgrade an existing destroyer into a de-facto aircraft carrier.
The new National Defense Program Guidelines and the mid-term defense program for the next five years were adopted on Tuesday at a cabinet meeting.
They highlight the tough security environment around Japan. This includes China's rapid military buildup on the sea and in the air and its pursuit of dominance in outer space and cyber space.
They say the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles remains essentially unchanged.
Under the defense guidelines, Japan will launch a multi-dimensional and integrated defense force. It will function strategically in outer space and cyber space, in addition to the conventional domains of land, sea and air.
The plans call for setting up a new space unit and expanding an existing cyber-defense unit.
In order to strengthen defense in the Pacific Ocean, the guidelines call for refurbishing the nation's largest destroyer Izumo over the next five years so it can effectively function as an aircraft carrier.
Japan will acquire state-of-the-art F-35B stealth fighter jets that can take off and land on the refurbished Izumo. However, the fighters will only be used on the vessel in emergencies or for training, rather than being deployed on a regular basis.
The measure is intended to clarify that the new Izumo will not be an "offensive aircraft carrier," which Japan cannot possess under its war-renouncing Constitution and its "defense-only" national policy.
Cabinet ministers also approved a plan to introduce 42 F-35Bs and 63 F-35As in phases to replace about 100 aging fighter jets.
Defense spending for the next five years is set to reach a record of about 240 billion dollars. The Defense Ministry hopes to bring down that figure by around 17 billion dollars through cost-cutting.
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