TOKYO --- New defense guidelines calling for the enhancement of capabilities to deal with security risks at sea, online and in outer space have been approved by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The new National Defense Program Guidelines were approved Dec. 18 along with the Mid-Term Defense Program, laying out Japan's defense policy and weapons purchases over the next five years.
The program estimated weapons purchases over the next five years at a record 27.4 trillion yen ($242 billion).
The main focus of both documents was the inclusion of wording that would allow for the retrofitting of an Izumo-class destroyer to give it aircraft carrier capabilities.
Underscoring the sensitivity of the issue in light of Japan's long-held stance of assuming an exclusively defensive posture for the Self-Defense Forces, the terminology for the upgraded destroyer was kept the same as in the previous document, with the updated vessel being described as "a destroyer with multifunctional capabilities." (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Cabinet also approved the acquisition of 105 F-35s in addition to the 42 already approved, at a cost of about $10.6 billion. The plan calls for 42 aircraft to be bought in the “B” STOVL variant.)