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Japan to relax decades-old weapons export ban (3)

(Xinhua)

13:30, December 25, 2011

To this point, the Pentagon on Tuesday hailed Japan's selection of its F-35 stealth fighter as its mainstay fighter jet, as Japan' s procurement of 42 such fighters will help finance the U.S. multi- trillion dollar, fifth-generation fighter jet program.

"We're pleased that Japan will purchase Lockheed Martin F-35 next-gen aircraft," Pentagon press secretary George Little was quoted as saying following Japan's announcement it had selected the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 jet over the Boeing-made F/A-18 Superhornet and the Europe's Typhoon multirole fighter jet.

According to the Pentagon, Japan joins more than 10 other U.S. allies that have signaled an intention to buy the stealth-capable, F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.

"Pentagon officials are grateful for our strong ally's confidence in the U.S. industrial base," Little said.

Ichikawa said that going forward he wants Japan's military aircraft to be equipped with qualities that can deal properly with the various changes facing the nation's security environment.

"The security environment surrounding future fighter jets is transforming. The F-35 has capabilities that can firmly respond to the changes," Ichikawa said recently.

The defense ministry said that the initial contract with Lockheed will be for four jets in the fiscal year beginning April 1, with the cost expected to be in the region of 8.9 billion yen ( 114 million U.S. dollars) for each jet.

Masaki Fukasawa, director of aircraft division at the defense ministry, said that the total cost of the 42 fighters, including maintenance and operation expenditures, could total in excess of 1. 6 trillion yen over the next 20 years.

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PD User at 2011-12-25124.210.129.*
Relaxation of this ban on the weaons" export means not only abandonment of the Item 9 of the constitution but Japan"s resumption of rearmament, which is likely to touch off arms race and military tension in Asia.
  

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