Japan's ruling coalition has approved a new defence policy outline that includes the conversion of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's (JMSDF's) two Izumo-class helicopter carriers into multirole aircraft carriers from which short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, can be operated.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito approved on 11 December the draft outline for the new National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and the associated Mid-Term Defense Plan (MTDP).
The NDPG draft, which was presented by the government to the ruling coalition, said that "by establishing our [new] fighter jet system, including [STOVL] aircraft, we will strengthen [our] aerial defence capabilities" in areas such as the Pacific side of the Japanese archipelago.
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