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In response to regional security challenges, Japan plans to develop long-range missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers

Japan Air Self-Defense Force warplanes and U.S. Marine Corps warplanes conduct a joint military exercise on the southwestern island of Kyushu, Japan (data photo, October 4, 2022)
Japan Air Self-Defense Force warplanes and U.S. Marine Corps warplanes conduct a joint military exercise on the southwestern island of Kyushu, Japan (data photo, October 4, 2022)

WASHINGTON — Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported on Saturday (December 31) that the Japanese Defense Ministry is arranging the development of a number of long-range missiles that can be deployed in the 2030s, with a maximum range of 3,000 kilometers.

According to Kyodo News, the Japanese government plans to deploy first a missile with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers in the early 2030s, and then another hypersonic missile with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers around 2035, which can attack any target in North Korea or many targets in China.

Japan’s cabinet a week ago approved a record initial budget for the next fiscal year, totaling 114.4 trillion yen ($863 billion), with military and welfare spending accounting for the largest share. The former is to address the growing regional security challenges posed by an increasingly assertive China and an unpredictable North Korea, while the latter is to meet the needs of a rapidly aging society.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plans to double his defense budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2027, and it is this plan that has increased Japan’s military budget to a record 68 trillion yen ($55 billion) in the fiscal year 2023.

In order to raise funds for the construction of military facilities or the construction of military ships, the Japanese government decided to issue more than 434 billion yen in construction bonds in fiscal 2023, which are usually issued for infrastructure construction rather than military equipment procurement.

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Japan is disturbed by the deterioration of the security environment around it due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growing military activities of the Chinese military in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Taiwan Strait. Japan’s main purpose in significantly increasing its defense budget and acquisitions, as well as developing advanced weapons, is to deal with contingencies that may occur at any time.

In addition to the Chinese and Russian factors, North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons threat to Japan is an important challenge of concern to the Japanese government.

Before Kyodo News revealed that Japan’s Defense Ministry was developing long-range missiles with a range of 3,000 kilometers, Tokyo had planned to spend 211.3 billion yen ($1.6 billion) to purchase Tomahawk missiles from the United States that could attack enemy missile bases under the latest defense and security strategy. Tokyo will also spend 110 billion yen ($830 million) to purchase computer software, personnel training, and technology transfer from the United States to launch Tomahawk missiles.

According to estimates from Japanese Defense Ministry officials, Tomahawk missiles will be deployed on Japanese Aegis destroyers between 2026 and 2027 for ground attack. Japan will also purchase air-to-surface missiles for warplanes from Norwegian defense companies and LockMartin in the United States.

In addition to purchasing weapons, Japan will also develop its own hypersonic weapons and multi-purpose drones. Japan will also work with the United Kingdom and Italy to develop the next generation of fighters scheduled for deployment by 2035.

A Kyodo News report on Saturday confirmed that Japan’s Ministry of Defense plans to develop hypersonic missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers and will be deployed simultaneously with the next generation of fighter jets jointly developed by Japan, Britain, and Italy for actual combat.

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