A Japanese newspaper is reporting that Japan will add an additional $6.75 billion to its military budget to strengthen its forces and reinforce maritime and air defenses.
The Asahi Shimbun reports the money is to go toward upgrading the Air Self-Defense Force’s fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters to speed up their deployment by 2020.
The newspaper also cited Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as saying that Japan would immediately begin training pilots for “stealth” attack aircraft.
The drive to beef up its military comes as a growing number of countries assert their right to operate far from their shores. China has become a rising threat as it takes over disputed territories in the South China Sea from individual countries.
Onodera’s office denied any plans to change the specifications of the F-35.
Japan is also reportedly building a ballistic missile defense system to counter a possible attack from North Korea.
Japan has not officially said whether it is buying the modified F-35.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.