Russia builds new barracks on disputed islands near Japan; Tokyo protests

Russia Barracks built in Northern Territories

Japan will accelerate spending on advanced stealth fighters, long-range missiles and other equipment over the next five years to support USA forces facing China's military in the Western Pacific, two new government defence papers said.

Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said that Tokyo had used diplomatic channels to submit a formal protest with Russian Federation and it would continue negotiations to resolve the issue and sign a peace treaty between the two countries.

It calls for the defence ministry to upgrade two flat-top Izumo-class destroyers to enable them to launch fighters with short take-off and vertical landing abilities, like the F-35B stealth fighter.

Japan says the secretive expansion of China's military footprint creates "strong concerns" in the region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed interest in amending the country's constitution in order to allow Japan more control over defending its territory.

Japan intends to procure more F-35 fighter jets, shipborne unmanned aircraft and submarines, according to newly released midterm defense guidelines and an associated defense plan.

Defence officials also pointed out that Japan will stop using a final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility for the country's F-35As from FY 2019 and start buying completed F-35As and F-35Bs to reduce procurement costs.

"For historical reasons, Japan's movements in the military security field have greatly concerned its Asian neighbors and the worldwide community", China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, The Japan Times reported.

Even after their conversion, the Izumo will be designated as multi-purpose helicopter destroyers, and will not have any permanently assigned F-35B squadron.

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"We are not creating carrier air wings or carrier air squadrons" like the United States navy, he added.

Japan's government also announced Tuesday that it will over the next decade buy 42 such fighter jets, with the F35B widely considered the likeliest candidate.

"That is not going to happen", he said.

Previous Japanese governments have ruled out acquiring aircraft carriers, adhering to the postwar consensus that the vessels' capabilities could be interpreted as offensive. Japan's USA arms purchases have surged, and the Defence Ministry came under criticism by the government's Board of Audit for agreeing too easily to Washington's hefty asking price. It will also acquire two USA land-based Aegis missile defence systems, as well as other American missile interceptors.

As a result, Japan may end up just having "floating runways" which may not be useful for most substantial missions, including defence of the remote islands.

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

The guidelines approved at a meeting of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet call for refitting an existing helicopter carrier into a ship that can deploy expensive, USA -made F-35B stealth fighters capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.

But the retired Ground Self-Defence Force officer said the presence of Izumo ships would be useful in beefing up defence over the far-flung islands in the southwest, including an area where tensions remain high over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China claims and calls Diaoyu.

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