The plans will take Japan closer to achieving regional power status amid dramatic increases in Chinese military spending, a nuclear-armed North Korea and a resurgent Russia. They have also argued that improving its missile defences is essential to respond to possible threats from North Korea , which has yet to follow up on a commitment to denuclearise.
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The islands are part of a chain stretching past Taiwan and down to the Philippines that has marked the limit of Chinese military dominance east of the disputed South China Sea.
It will also acquire two US land-based Aegis missile defence systems, as well as other American missile interceptors.
By modifying its two 248-metre-long helicopter carriers, Japan would in effect be acquiring its first aircraft carriers since the end of world war two — a move critics say violates its postwar constitutional commitment to a purely defensive role for the military. Independent Programming. A new joint-forces cyber unit will bolster Japan's defenses against cyber attacks. We want to hear from you. Japan only spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product GDP on defense, but the size of its economy means it already has one of the world's largest militaries.
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President Donald Trump , who has threatened to impose tariffs on Japanese car imports, thanked Abe for buying the F-35s when the two met at a summit in Argentina this month. The 248-metre 814 ft long Izumo-class ships are as big as any of Japan's aircraft carriers in World War Two. Most popular.
Tokyo is particularly concerned about the vulnerability of its islands along the edge of the East China Sea, where the two countries are embroiled in a long-running dispute over the Senkaku islands. Japan will buy forty-five F-35 stealth fighters in addition to 42 jets that are already on order, according to a separate five-year procurement plan the cabinet approved the same day.
The guidelines, adopted by the cabinet on Tuesday, include plans to adapt two existing helicopter carriers so that they can accommodate fighter jets — effectively turning them into aircraft carriers.
Tomohiro Ohsumi Getty Images. Japan's air force will also get its first space unit to help keep tabs on potential adversaries high above the Earth's atmosphere.
Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC delivered to your inbox. Data also provided by. CNBC Newsletters. The plans are the clearest indication yet of Japan's ambition to become a regional power as a military build-up by China and a resurgent Russia puts pressure on its U.