Having approved a $320 billion package for the largest military build-up since World War Two (WWII) to rival its “greatest strategic challenge ever” China, Japan on Saturday announced that it is considering the deployment of US medium-range missiles on its territory if Biden administration comes on the table for official negotiations. Deployment would include Long Range Hypersonic Weapons (LRHW) and Tomahawk cruise missiles. "Such places as the island of Kyushu and others are possible [for deployment]," sources familiar with the development told agencies, adding that it is yet unclear if the missiles will be placed on US military vessels stationed in the Indo-Pacific region.
Japan's Ministry of Defense has also unveiled plans of developing long-range multipurpose 'Three-in-One' missiles that can travel up to 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles). The Japanese military plans to deploy these ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missiles between 2027 and 2037 to bolster its ‘counterstrike’ capabilities, Kyodo news reported. The hypersonic missiles to be deployed by around 2035 can reach North Korean territory and parts of China. The ‘multipurpose’ missiles are being deployed under Japan’s new National Security and Defense Strategies that view North Korea as a “graver, more imminent threat than before,” Russia as a “serious security concern" and Beijing as a “greatest strategic regional challenge."
Washington has denied sending any ground-launched medium-range missiles to US forces stationed on the Japanese archipelago stretching to the Philippines, sources from both nations told Japan-based agencies. Deployment of long-range missiles with a range of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers was banned under the 1988 US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which expired in 2019. Japan, however, plans to counter Chinese 1,900 medium-range ballistic missiles that can hit the Japanese archipelago. The US Indo-Pacific Command is also planning to deploy the long-range hypersonic weapon with a range of over 2,700 kilometers by 2023, and Japan is being considered as a potential ally host.
In this handout photo provided by the Command Public Information Office, Western Mindanao Command, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, right, greets Western Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Roy Galido as he visits Camp Don Basilio Navarro in Zamboanga province. Credit: AP
In an apparent U-turn on its pacifism since WWII, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's administration has announced ramping up the country's defense spending for the fiscal year 2023 boosting it to 6.82 trillion yen, or $51.4 billion. Japan's Defense Ministry will also purchase eight F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and eight F-35B Lightning multirole fighter aircraft, part of a much larger package of F-35s with the ally the US. Tokyo has embarked on a regional security posture with its hiked military budget by 56 percent, abandoning its constitutional commitment to avoid its Self-Defense Forces' involvement in a war since 1954.
A Tomahawk cruise missile is fired off the battleship USS Wisconsin. Credit: AP
“We’re modernizing our military alliance," US President Joe Biden declared earlier during a meeting with Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, adding that Washington is committed to building on Japan’s historic increase in defense spending and new national security strategy. Japan, under the new security and defense plan, would “take on new roles” in the Indo-Pacific region and “foster even closer defense cooperation with the United States and our mutual partners,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, after a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, in presence of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Japanese Minister of Defense Hamada Yasukazu. Japan's Kishida has been invoking Russia’s war in Ukraine as a warning for the East Asia bloc to bolster its defensive posture against heavily militarized regional hegemon China.