Rethink jet sales to JapanThe United States government officially acknowledged yesterday that it intends to sell the F-22 Raptor, a stealth air superiority fighter, to Japan. An official at the National Safety Council confirmed it one day before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United States. The strategy is intended to modernize Japan’s air force as a provision against China’s growing air force.
The F-22 is called the “dream fighter” and is a fifth-generation stealth fighter for the United States air force. One of the world’s most advanced fighter jets, the Raptor is also equipped for ground attacks, electronic warfare and playing a role in intelligence.
It can fly more than 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) without refueling. When the fighter is stationed in Japan, its operating range will include Korea, China and even certain parts of Russia. Some media reports claim Japan is planning to buy 100 F-22 fighters at a price of $300 million each. With Japan buying a large fleet of the fighter jets, it is clear the already intensive armament competition will get worse. China and Russia will add more modern equipment to their forces in response, with the money generated by their fast-developing economies and the sale of oil. China is working on projects to develop the next-generation fighter jets J-13 and J-14, which would also have stealth functions.
The world’s most populous country is even getting ready to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Russia is rushing to finish developing a fifth-generation fighter, Sukhoi-54. Korea’s main fighter jets are F-15Ks, so it must reconsider its military modernization plans. The North Korean nuclear issue has to be viewed within this context.
If the United States finally decides to sell the F-22 Raptor fighters to Japan it would be like opening Pandora’s box in Northeast Asia. The United States should reconsider whether supplying Japan with the highly advanced fighter jets would actually be beneficial. The United States will not be free from responsibility if it causes an arms race in Northeast Asia that profits its munitions industry. The damage won’t be limited to Northeast Asia.