Japan to Sell Fighter Jets to 15 Nations

Japan to Sell Fighter Jets to 15 Nations
Image copyright: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Stringer/Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • Japan Tuesday cleared the sale of next-generation fighter jets it has developed with Britain and Italy, a stark contrast from its long-held pacifist principles. Japan aims to bolster its role in the global security arena, especially amid regional tensions with China.

  • Japan has restricted the exports of lethal weapons for the jets, pledging not to sell them for active warfare. Sales will also be limited to 15 countries that Japan has defense partnerships with.

The Spin

Anti-China narrative

The sale of future fighter jets to other nations is part of Japan's strategy to not limit itself to a supporting role in global defense projects. The move comes amid neighboring China's emergence as an aggressive military power, which concerns Tokyo given the many disputes it has with Beijing in the East and South China Seas. China's frequent war games with Russia around Japan haven't soothed nerves either.

Pro-China narrative

Japan has already broken from its decades-long principle of pacifism, but that's not all Tokyo wants to do. By loosening its lethal weapon export rules, on top of expanding its military partnership with the US, Kishida's government is slowly working its way toward terminating Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits the military from engaging in warfare. Given Japan's history of aggression, the entire region will be on high alert, not just China.

Cynical narrative

Japan's increasing interest in military affairs will be complex from any perspective. Japan's military posturing, through alliances and its existing offensive capabilities, always had Beijing on the radar. While China is currently focused on increasing economic pressures, it will now be forced to redirect resources and shift its focus away from its financial issues. Tokyo's change symbolizes the increasing challenges of navigating the "multipolar world."

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