WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada earlier this month that the F-35 is Japan’s best bet for developing a fleet of next-generation fighter jets, sources close to bilateral relations said Saturday.

Although Tokyo has not given up on acquiring the more sophisticated F-22 stealth jet, Gates’ suggestion is expected to force it to seriously consider going with the F-35 instead.

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