After Trump urging, Japan announces plan to bolster defense with purchase of 147 F-35s
Japan’s government on Tuesday approved its first aircraft carrier and various increases in its military defense capabilities amid pressure from the Trump administration to spend "massive amounts" on American military defense products to lower its trade surplus with the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported.
The new guidelines, approved by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, effectively counter Trump's criticism while ensuring Japan will bolster is defense capabilities against rising threats.
Japan will spend $10 billion on 147 F-35s over the next decade and refit an existing helicopter carrier into a ship that can deploy 42 U.S.-made F-35B stealth fighters capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.
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Abe has long sought to enhance Japan’s military cooperation with allies. The measure emphasizes Japan’s need to counter potential threats from North Korea and China as it enlarges its navy.
Proponents say purchases of costly American weapons will reduce the U.S. trade deficit while enhancing military cooperation with allies. The guidelines said Japan will seek more cost-efficient purchase of advanced-capability U.S. equipment while pushing for more joint research and development.
But critics argue that purchasing American weapons will negatively affect Japan’s defense industry. Japan’s hope for developing its own F-2 fighter jets, for example, is uncertain. It was unclear whether the F-2 successor would be made-in-Japan or jointly developed.
The guidelines called for created specialized units in space, cyberattacks, electronic warfare while integrating the ground maritime and air forces to better coordinate operations.
Preparations for U.S.-Japan trade talks are underway and could occur as earlier as next month, Bloomberg reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.