It is official now: the national security council and the Cabinet have both signed off on the procurement of the Lockheed Martin F-35 as Japan's replacement for the F-4 (J and E).
I would not hold my breath in anticipation of when the Air Self Defense Forces accepts its first delivery of the plane, nor of any of Japan's beset heavy industry giants getting much in the way of ancillary contracts.
Guess that the timing of this announcement is proper: near to the darkest days of the year and amidst a flurry of speculation about the situation in North Korea post-Kim Jong-il. This decision has all the attributes of a snowjob.
18 minutes ago