Japan approves new defense guidelines

Japan beefs up defences amid concerns over China's military might

Japan beefs up defences amid concerns over China's military might

Kongdan Oh, an analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses, who led efforts to rewrite U.S. -Japan military guidelines in 2015, told The Independent that increased militarization was an "unavoidable evolution", despite being a step "away from the image of pacifism".

Japan will launch its first aircraft carrier since the end of World War II.

The new plan marks a significant upgrade to Japan's defence capabilities, as it seeks to form a "multi-dimensional joint defence force" to cope with an increasingly hostile security environment.

Japan may be a self-described pacifist country, but it's poised to become the biggest foreign buyer of Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets.

"Due to historical reasons, neighbouring countries in Asia and the worldwide community have always been highly concerned about Japan's moves in military and security fields", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.

Japan said in July it had asked Russian Federation to reduce its military activity on the islands, a plea Moscow dismissed as unhelpful megaphone diplomacy at the time.

The cabinet, under the guidelines, also approved a new Medium Term Defence Program requiring a record five-year defence spending of 27 trillion yen ($322 billion) beginning in 2019, up more than 2 trillion yen ($23.8 billion) from an earlier five-year defence budget.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the plan is mainly for fighter pilots in case of an emergency at sea and that it "falls within the minimum necessity allowed under the constitution".

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

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The refitted ships and new warplanes would "increase operational flexibility" for Japan's military as China increases its naval presence in southern waters around remote Japanese islands, according to an official.

The plans are the clearest indication yet of Japan's ambition to become a regional power as military buildups by China and Russian Federation are putting pressure on its USA ally.

"Fighter jets will only be deployed on an operational necessity basis and will not be permanently embarked on the two ships", he said, adding that Japan should not be judged as being an offensive power exclusively by the capability of its arms.

"That is not going to happen", he said.

In addition to the aircraft carriers and fighter jets, Japan will also be acquiring long range cruise missiles.

And the new fighter jets would be stationed at existing ground facilities, not on the ships, he said.

Kyoji Yanagisawa, a former defence bureaucrat, expressed disappointment that the aircraft carrier deployment plan appears to have been given the green light without sufficient debate on what functions the vessels should have, and what they are for.

According to the newspaper, both sides now in work on the approval of this date for the Japanese premier's visit to Russian Federation.

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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