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[Editorial] What If Japan Buys 100 F-22 Fighters?

Posted April. 27, 2007 07:30,   


The U.S. government recently hinted that it may sell F-22 Raptor stealth jets to Japan. Negotiations had been taking place under the table. “We’re happy to discuss supplying next-generation fighters to Japan,” said Dennis Wilder, the senior director for East Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s first visit to Washington scheduled on April 26. “China is speeding up the modernization of its air force and Japan has been uneasy over North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development,” Dennis added.

The performance of the F-22, which is often referred to as “the dream jet,” is unparalleled. The so-called best fighter jets, such as the F-15, the F-16 and the F-18 are almost “kids” compared to the F-22. During a mock exercise among the four different fighters, F-22s destroyed 144 fighters without any losses. Although the White House did not elaborate on the sales volume, Japan is planning to purchase 100 F-22s by 2010, according to the Washington Times.

If Japan is equipped with a large number of F-22s, the Japan Air Self Defense Force will inevitably cause changes in the military geography of Northeast Asia. “It will break the 20-year military balance of the Taiwan Strait,” Chinese media immediately responded. China has already started developing advanced jet fighters in a bid to challenge the F-22. Although China is planning to field the new jets by 2015, it will accelerate its deployment once Japan purchases F-22s. Taiwan and other countries will also beef up their military strength, sparking an arms race in Northeast Asia.

Although the U.S. is fully aware of a potential arms race, it is considering selling F-22s to Japan because it is trying to manage the security order of East Asia based on the U.S.-Japan alliance, indicating its anxiety over China’s military buildup.

Once the U.S. and China start to check each other rather than seeking cooperation, Korea will be sandwiched between them. Friendly relations between the U.S. and China are also essential in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. Korea should also take action to prevent an arms race. For instance, it should bolster U.S. and Korea ties and persuade the four surrounding powers - the United States, China, Japan and Russia – to establish a multilateral security system. The success of the six-nation talks will be the first step.