Japan will develop a cruise missile and a high-speed ballistic missile that it intends to put into mass production, Reuters and BTA reported.
The agency notes that the country is trying to increase its military power, including its capacity to strike more distant targets, to respond to threats from China and Russia.
The plan to acquire the missiles is included in a request to increase the Defense Department’s annual budget and is a clear departure from decades-old constitutional limits on the range of the Self-Defense Forces’ weapons. Now they are allowed to use only missiles with a range of several hundred kilometers.
“China continues its threats to use force to unilaterally change the status quo and deepens its alliance with Russia,” argued the Japanese defense ministry.
The document also states that Beijing is putting pressure on Taiwan by conducting military exercises and that it has not given up on using force to establish control over the island.
This year, signals about China’s ambitions in the region have increased, Reuters notes. China’s military fired five ballistic missiles that landed in waters around Japan – less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) off the island nation’s shores. This show of force came after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense also mentions North Korea as a threat.
The requested budget funds are earmarked for the mass production of ground-launched cruise missiles, which are a longer-range version of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-developed Type 12 missiles used by the Self-Defense Forces to strike vessels. The development of new high-speed ballistic missiles capable of hitting ground targets is also envisaged.
In addition, the Japanese Ministry of Defense is requesting budget funds for the development of other weapons, including hypersonic warheads.
The military department did not release information about the range of the new missiles, nor about the quantities planned for production. However, they are likely to be able to reach mainland China if they are located off the coast of Okinawa, Reuters notes.
Japan has already ordered John Strike Missile (JSM) air-launched missiles manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg, as well as autonomous high-precision long-range air-to-surface missiles from the US company Lockheed Martin, capable of striking targets at a distance of up to 1000 kilometers.
The defense ministry’s request is to increase annual budget spending by 3.6 percent to 5.6 million yen ($39.78 billion) starting April 1, with the military department saying that amount could be more high.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government will approve the request at the end of the year, when it will also announce the results of a major review of the defense strategy, as well as a new medium-term plan to increase the country’s military power.