One would have thought that Seoul would have proclaimed that the threat of the irrational North Koreans demanded nothing less than Lockheed's stealthy light attack bomber would do. You might have expected that but the South Korean government chose to put the spotlight on another, more serious threat - Japan.
"The air force, which industry and government officials say has always wanted the F-35 for the requirement, especially after Japan chose the type in 2011, mounted a barely veiled campaign against the F-15 after its selection."
In the emerging, hyper-militarized frontier of Asia, Japan is drawing a good bit of nervous attention.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reconstituted an Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security. That is a fancy title for a group that is going to tell him what he wants to be told
about ditching the section of Japan's constitution that prevents it from going to war. (He formed the panel in 2007 during his previous and disastrous year-long tenure as prime minister, and it deservedly lapsed in his all-too-brief absence.)
In spite of being specifically forbidden to possess war potential, Japan has a "self-defense force" of considerable strength. Its quarter of a million personnel in the air, ground and sea components operate much the same equipment as do the air forces, armies and navies of other countries. It has tanks and artillery and over 300 fighter aircraft as well as 350 maritime support aircraft, 40 major and well-armed surface combatant ships, and 16 submarines. Not bad for a military organization that is constitutionally forbidden to go to war. But it has no bombers or long-range attack missiles - yet.
...in April ...Abe was asked in parliament if he supported the statement in 1995 by then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama to the effect that Japan apologized for invading all the countries that suffered its savagery in World War II. It was obviously a planted question, and Abe's answer had been prepared in advance.
He replied blandly that "The definition of what constitutes an 'invasion' has yet to be established in academia or in the international community," which assertion is as foolish as it is insulting to the memory of countless millions who suffered the brutality of Japanese invaders for so many years.
Abe continued, "Things that happened between nations will look different depending on which side you view them from."
...In the course of its war preparations in the 1930s, Japan formed Unit 731, a biological and chemical weapons research and development organization whose evil experiments killed thousands (we'll never know the exact number) of Chinese, Koreans and Russians, and who knows how many others.
And it is horribly coincidental, given what has been happening in Syria, that Prime Minister Abe arranged a photo opportunity in May that commemorated Unit 731. In a ghastly display of crass, callous and grinning arrogance, Abe gave the cameras a thumbs-up sign from the cockpit of a Japanese "Self-Defense Force" jet aircraft that prominently displayed the number "731".
This is the man who is currently leading Japan and who wants to have his country released from its constitutional prohibition against creating an offensive military force rather than one that is, quite rightly, focused most effectively on self-defense.
One reason for his determination to destroy the commitment to "forever renounce ... the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes" is because he wants to confront China militarily over Beijing's claims to islands in the region. If he succeeds in his aim, he will be able to equip his armed forces with advanced offensive weapons and go to war.
Maybe South Korea isn't being paranoid in wanting a stealth light attack bomber with Abe at the wheel in Tokyo.