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Japan reviewing purchase of 100 more U.S. F-35 fighter jets

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan reviewing purchase of 100 more U.S. F-35 fighter jets
President Donald J. Trump (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have discussed Japan's weapons purchases from the United States. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Japan is considering the purchase of an additional 100 F-35 fighter jets from the United States in a bid to deter China and appease U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a Japanese press report.

The Nikkei reported Tuesday the measure is being pursued following "pressure" from Trump on Japan to buy more U.S. weapons.

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Japan could also be building its military in response to trends in China. Beijing deployed its latest stealth fighter, the J-20, in February. China also plans to introduce 250 fifth-generation fighter jets by 2030, according to the Nikkei.

Tokyo already retains a fleet of 42 F-35 fighters. Some of the new jets, if purchased, would replace older F-15 jets.

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The new weapons are costly, and the Japanese government could spend upward of $87 million per fighter jet. Japan wants to acquire both the F-35A and F-35B type jets for its fleet.

The report comes two months after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Abe reportedly told Trump acquiring high-performance weapons is important for Japan's defense capabilities.

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Japan could also be considering purchasing the E-2D Hawkeye Early Warning Aircraft.

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As direct threats from North Korea have subsided, Japan is turning its attention to China's military.

Xinhua reported Sunday work has begun on China's new generation aircraft carrier, the Type 002.

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The Type 002 comes more than a year after its predecessor, the Type 001A, was launched as the first domestically built vessel of its kind in China.

Naval sources told the South China Morning Post work on a fourth carrier was "postponed," because of trade disputes with the United States.

"Beijing doesn't want to upset Washington further -- the economy has already slowed since the two countries started their trade disputes," the source said, according to the Post.

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