TOKYO (AP) — Japan has adopted new defense guidelines that include plans for its first aircraft carrier and increases in defense spending and arms capability in coming years, citing the need to counter potential threats from North Korea and China.
The defense plan was approved Tuesday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet along with a record 27 trillion yen ($240 billion) five-year defense spending from April 2019.
The plans call for refitting an existing helicopter carrier into a ship that can deploy F-35B stealth fighters.
Defense officials say Japan needs higher deterrence and increased missile defense and fighter capability to cope with potential threats amid regional tensions.
Critics say possession of an aircraft carrier would give Japan a strike capability in violation to the country’s pacifist constitution.