Japan will soon deploy two aircraft carriers – its first since World War II.
The nation will modify its two Izumo-class destroyers, JS Izumo and JS Kaga, to accommodate the 42 F-35B stealth fighter jets they plan to buy under their newly updated defense policy, CNN reported Tuesday.
“Under the drastically changing security environment around Japan, the government will take all possible measures to protect the lives and assets of Japanese people,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
“The review of the new defense guideline is extremely meaningful to show the Japanese people and the world what is truly necessary in our defense to protect the people and to serve as the cornerstone of the future (for the Japan Self-Defense Forces),” he added.
Japan defense plan calls for aircraft carriers at sea and vigilance in space and cyberspace https://t.co/24iTWPJ6nD
— The Japan Times (@japantimes) December 18, 2018
The two destroyers are Japan’s largest ships at more than 800 feet long with 27,000-ton displacement. The ships have been tasked with hosting anti-submarine helicopters for the past three years since their initial deployment.
The upcoming modifications will include deck reinforcement to serve the heavier weight of the fighter jets, in addition to the temperatures and force derived from thrusters during the F-35B’s vertical landings.
“We will refit Maritime Self-Defense Force multipurpose helicopter destroyers so fighter jets capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings can be deployed when necessary,” the Japanese government declared in the defense policy, according to Japan Times.
Along with the 42 F-35Bs, Japan also plans to purchase 105 F-35A fighter jets to be used on conventional runways. The purchase is part of a 10-year plan, although 27 F-35As and 18 F-35Bs will come in the first five years.
The first five years of Japan’s 10-year defense plan come at a cost of $282 billion to be used across their three military branches.
“We need to develop truly effective defense abilities, rather than simply expanding traditional ones,” the Japanese government stated.
What’s the highlight of Japan’s new defense plan? 100 F-35s? Aircraft carrier? To me, it’s their shift to cyber & space warfare. https://t.co/LrYKFW7jps
— Mitsuru Obe (@mit_obe) December 18, 2018
The latest plan is the first update to the policy in five years, sparked by Japan’s growing concern over China’s military presence in the East China Sea and other waters near Japan.
“China’s rapid modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, enhancement of operational capabilities, and unilateral escalation of activities in areas close to Japan are generating strong security concerns in the region and international community, including Japan,” said a Japanese white paper published in August.
The latest update to Japan’s defense policy has received criticism over concerns that it goes against the pacifist defense stance. However, the Japanese government maintains that the modifications to the aircraft carriers align with defensive policies, not offensive actions.
“The planned modification to the Izumo-class carriers is to increase their applications,” said Japan’s Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.