Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to give this island nation what effectively is its first aircraft carrier since World War II and will announce plans to purchase dozens of U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets as he grapples with a growing threat from China, according to defense guidelines and media reports.
The plans, constituting a major review of Japan’s defense strategy, were approved by a committee of the ruling coalition Tuesday and will be presented to the cabinet for approval next week.
Japan will announce plans to buy 40 to 50 F-35s over the next five years but may ultimately purchase 100 planes, media reports said. That will have the added benefit of mollifying President Trump, who has complained about the U.S. trade deficit with Japan as well as the cost of maintaining tens of thousands of troops here.
But the primary driver is Abe’s conviction that Japan, despite a pacifist constitution and culture, and the protection afforded by its alliance with the United States, needs to take its defense more seriously, experts said. Nevertheless, the move is already receiving criticism for stirring up memories of Japan’s militaristic past.
“The most important responsibility of the government is to protect the people and their peaceful lives,” Abe told a panel of national security experts Tuesday.
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