Russian new military barracks in disputed Kuril islands anger Japan

Sergei Vedyashkin  Moskva News Agency

Sergei Vedyashkin Moskva News Agency

The new $244 billion five-year defence plan calls for the upgrade of two helicopter carriers so that they can launch USA fighters.

"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.

On Tuesday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced that "under the drastically changing security environment around Japan, the government will take all possible measures to protect the lives and assets of Japanese people".

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya has stressed that Japan will not label an upgraded Izumo as an "attack aircraft carrier", and that it will not pose any threat to other countries, even if fighter jets were to be deployed.

Known as the National Defense Program Guidelines and the Mid-Term Defense Plan, or MTDP, the documents outline Japan's defense policy and outlook for the next five fiscal years as the country grapples with the rising economic and military power by regional rival China and the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

"We believe this is within ... what is allowed under the constitution".

It also plans to buy 105 units of the F35A, which performs conventional takeoff and landings and could not be used on the retrofitted destroyers.

Under the new spending plan, Tokyo will spend about $10 billion to become the largest customer-besides the US -for Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"For historical reasons, Japan's movements in the military security field have greatly concerned its Asian neighbors and the global community", China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, The Japan Times reported.

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"We are not creating carrier air wings or carrier air squadrons" like the U.S. navy, he added. The spending plans also call for Japan's first aircraft carrier as well as long-range cruise missiles, giving the country the ability to strike distant enemy targets.

'That's not going to happen'.

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. Japan's US arms purchases have surged, and the Defence Ministry came under criticism by the government's Board of Audit for agreeing too easily to Washington's hefty asking price. Any deal would require that Japan recognise the islands are legitimately Russian and would be given "not as a return, but as a gesture of goodwill", he added.

"It could be just a waste of money", said Yanagisawa, who now serves as head of International Geopolitics Institute Japan.

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 US -made F-35B stealth fighters capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.

Despite the tension over the islands, the neighbours are discussing various other issues.

The navy's two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga, will be modified to accommodate F-35B operations, the paper said.

It says 188 households are expected to move into them next week.

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