Japan’s new National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) calls for more attention to areas such as space, cyber, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Critical reaction to the NDPG in Japan, however, has centered around the decision to convert two Izumo-class helicopter “destroyers” into multirole aircraft carriers from which short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft can be operated. To that end, the NDPG also lays out a plan to purchase 42 Lockheed Martin F-35B STOVL aircraft over the next decade. Critics argue that these ships, equipped with F-35Bs, must now be considered “attack aircraft carriers” and constitute a departure from Japan’s defense-oriented security policy.
Serving as the link between the “ends” outlined in Japan’s National Security Strategy, and the “means” listed in the Mid-Term Defense Plan, the NDPG describes the “ways” Japan will achieve its security objectives. Intended to last ten years, the 2013 NDPG was revised ahead of schedule, reflecting the government’s concern over the increasingly difficult security environment.