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You paid how much? Boeing charged Japan an “excessive” amount for spare parts for its refueling tanker plane — some 16 times more than the U.S. Air Force paid, Bloomberg reports. With friends like these …

Meanwhile, with incursions by China and Russia keeping the Air Self-Defense Force on its toes, the government plans to deploy F-35A stealth fighters (luckily for Japan’s pocket book, not Boeing planes) to Ishikawa Prefecture.

But the ASDF just isn’t scrambling like it used to. With near-daily provocations by Chinese aircraft threatening to wear the fleet and pilots out, Japan decided recently to get a bit less proactive, leading to a marked drop in outings.

A Boeing KC-46 Pegasus military aerial refueling aircraft. Cost of parts can vary considerably. | GETTY IMAGES / VIA BLOOMBERG
A Boeing KC-46 Pegasus military aerial refueling aircraft. Cost of parts can vary considerably. | GETTY IMAGES / VIA BLOOMBERG

Later this year, however, it will be every hand on deck as the SDF give all its units a workout in nationwide exercises for the first time in decades — with China, naturally, providing the impetus.

Neighbors impacted by Beijing’s behavior are also getting a helping hand. Japan is providing Philippine forces with SDF lifesaving equipment — the first time Tokyo has offered SDF equipment to a foreign military as overseas aid.

It’s no secret that Japan has been slowly pushing the envelope of what it can do in defense of itself and others. But how does it do it? As Michael MacArthur Bosack explains, Japan’s bureaucracy has honed the “positive list” approach to security down to a fine art.

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)