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Tokyo also wants to buy more than 100 US-made F-35 fighter jets as part of a $ 242 billion plan.
For the first time since World War II, Japan is looking to take over aircraft carriers to counter what it considers a growing threat from China.
Tokyo also wants to buy more than 100 US-made F-35 fighter jets as part of a $ 243 billion plan, according to its five-year defense budget to 2024 approved on Tuesday, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported .
In particular, the procurement plan includes two aircraft carriers that will carry fighter-bombers. These will not be built from scratch, but will be born as a result of an update of amphibious assault ships of the Izumo class , a type of 27,000-ton ship that became in 2015 the largest ship of the once very powerful Navy of the Country of the rising sun.
These vessels do not have launch catapults or trampoline launch ramps, but they have sufficient capacity to accommodate fixed-wing aircraft capable of short takeoff and vertical landing operations.
This makes the F-35B – a fighter-bomber developed for the US Marine Corps – the only candidate to fulfill this role, which is also reflected in Japan’s huge defense budget, which includes the purchase of 42 such devices. in the next decade.
If the plan is finalized, the two adapted amphibious ships will become the first aircraft carriers in Japan since the end of the Second World War. During that contest, the Japanese Imperial Navy had ten ships of this type, some of which participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
After its defeat in that conflict, the Constitution of Japan prohibited the country from having Armed Forces with offensive capabilities.
However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has placed special emphasis on abandoning this pacifist clause, citing emerging “threats” from China and North Korea. Thus, his government has not only increased efforts to acquire offensive weapons, including Tomahawk cruise missiles and F-35 fighters, but has also launched troop exercises to conduct expeditionary operations abroad.
Earlier this year, for example, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces formed its first Marine Corps brigade since World War II. The new corps, which has 2,100 troops in total, will be in charge of defending the remote islands of the southwest of the country.
Possible Chinese ‘Response’
Japan’s plan to get hold of aircraft carriers is driven by Beijing’s military growth, but the move could in turn encourage Chinese leaders to strengthen their own expansion programs, say several observers quoted by the South China Morning Post portal .
Thus, for example, Song Zhongping, a military analyst from Hong Kong, believes that these steps in Tokyo will make the already fragile Sino-Japanese relations even more complicated.
“Any action to build its first aircraft carrier would not only violate its pacifist Constitution, which prohibits it from having attack ships, but will also make China and other countries that were victims of its aggression feel more vulnerable,” he said.
Another expert, Collin Koh Swee Lean, of the School of International Studies S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, warned that the plan of Tokyo could provoke a violent reaction not only of China, but also of the two Koreas, at the same time as intensifying competition naval in northeastern Asia.
Source: Actualidad RT