Tokyo set for 'persistent talks' with Russian Federation on peace treaty, assures official

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The new guidelines, approved by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet, effectively counter Trump's criticism while ensuring Japan will bolster is defense capabilities against rising threats. Among the key threats identified in the plan are the militarily assertiveness of China and Russian Federation in regional waters, a North Korea that remains nuclear-armed, and other emergent areas such as cyber, outer space and electromagnetic waves.

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

Soviet forces seized the four islands at the end of World War Two and Moscow and Tokyo both claim sovereignty over them.

By March 2029, Japan will come to own 147 F-35 fighter jets, comprising 105 F-35A and 42 F-35B aircraft. The work on the Izumo helicopter carrier will be done over five years and the ship would carry 10 stealth fighters, while the refitting of the second helicopter carrier into aircraft carrier would follow.

Japan has relatively little land on which to build runways long enough for conventional F-35s, and an aircraft carrier would be particularly useful in the western Pacific, where Japan tries to defend remote islands, including those disputed with China, and to play a greater role as part of the US-Japan alliance.

Proponents say purchases of costly American weapons will reduce the USA trade deficit while enhancing military cooperation with allies.

Russian politicians say they fear Japan might agree to deploy U.S. missile facilities on the islands if any are returned to Tokyo, and that Moscow could only countenance a deal if it received a guarantee that ruled out such a scenario.

Japan beefs up defences amid concerns over China's military might
Japan OKs plan to add aircraft carrier to fleet, 1st since WWII

With Japan purchasing USA defense equipment mainly through the foreign military sales arrangement, the government says in the latest defense guidelines it will seek to "streamline" the process to procure the sophisticated armaments "efficiently". 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.

Overall, Japan will spend a record 27.5 trillion yen ($243 billion) on military equipment over the next five years, an increase of 6.4% from the previous five-year plan.

The Medium Term Defense Program comes with a price tag of 27.47 trillion yen (US$243 billion) and compounds concerns from the worldwide community about Japan's constantly rising defense costs since Abe took office in 2012.

The guideline calls for turning the self-defense forces' attention to threats posed to the nation's cybersecurity and from space. "Given the fiscal situation, we can't allow defense spending to increase without checks".

"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.

Noting the increasing need for Japan's ground, maritime and air units to act flexibly across all kinds of domains, the government says it will aim to form a "multidimensional joint defense force".

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